To ensure that their buildings are evacuation ready, building owners across the globe follow the guidelines of the International Building Code (IBC), developed by the International Code Council (ICC) to regulate the egress safety of new construction that features occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access. But what if you have an existing building and not a new one?
Even if your building is older, the code’s safety measures are still valid. The only difference is that you find them in its sister code: the International Fire Code (IFC), which regulates the egress safety of new construction and existing buildings. In addition to their difference in regulation, the difference between the codes in the U.S. is that a version of the IBC has been adopted by all states, while aversion of the IFC has been adopted by at least 42.
The Benefits of IBC Compliant Safety Signage
IBC compliant fire safety signs bring three benefits to any building that contains them: photoluminescent safety signage, the presentation of critical information, and critical signage placement. Below, describe each benefit in terms of evacuation safety.
Photoluminescent Safety Signage
If you’ve ever experienced a low visibility evacuation where a building’s vertical exit enclosures (referred to here as “enclosures”) didn’t contain photoluminescent fire safety signs, then you know the value of using glow in the dark signage—particularly running man symbols and floor identification signs—that identify exit leading doors and keep evacuees apprised of their location within an enclosure. In the past, buildings typically contained reflective safety signage that didn’t glow in the dark, depending on unreliable backup lighting in the event of low visibility.
Presentation of Critical Information
Running man symbols and floor identification signs present information in different ways, with the former instructing evacuees with a symbol and the latter informing them with words and numbers. Running man symbols are placed on exit leading doors, with their figure’s running direction indicating whether evacuees should travel up, down, right, or left upon entering a door. Floor identification signs present the following information to help evacuees remain confident, calm, and moving toward an exit: identification of the stair or ramp, floor level (also in Braille), total number of floors, and the story of and direction toward the exit.
Critical Signage Placement
The IBC requires emergency exit symbols to be center mounted on doors with their top not above 18 inches above the finished floor. This position allows evacuees to see the symbols from standing and crawling positions. Floor identification should be placed at each floor level within an enclosure, mounted 5 feet above the finished floor in a position that’s visible when doors are open or closed to ensure their visibility.