Luminous Egress Signage: An Overview
Does your commercial or residential R1 building contain luminous fire exit signs, emergency exit symbols, and floor identification signs according to the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC)? If not, you could be jeopardizing the safety of your building’s occupants during a low visibility evacuation, and increasing your risk for lawsuits due to botched evacuations. That’s because traditional evacuation safety measures for vertical exit enclosures (referred to here as “enclosures”), backup lighting and non-luminescent signs are literally a recipe for disaster, a fact made obvious during the 1993 bombing of the World trade Center, when bombs destroyed the buildings’ backup generators that powered their backup lighting, leaving evacuees to travel stairwells in the dark.
IBC and IFC Compliant Enclosures
Created by the International Code Council (ICC) to regulate the construction quality, structural stability, and egress safety of commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access, the codes require the following types of luminous egress signage within an enclosure to support efficient, expedient evacuations: fire exit signs, which are mounted at building exits; emergency exit symbols (running man signs), which are mounted on all exit-leading doors; and floor identification signs, which are mounted at each floor landing and contain the flowing information: the identification of the stair or ramp, floor level, availability of roof access, total number of floors within an enclosure, and the level of and direction toward an exit.
IBC and IFC Signage Combined with Egress Markings
The codes’ signage alone creates for safer evacuations. But its ultimate effect comes when it combines with luminescent egress marking to create an enclosure whose dimensions, equipment, and exit information are fully outlined and identified during low visibility. When it operates as expected, back up lighting accomplishes the thing. But most building owners are no longer willing to take the risk. Due to their electricity-free, maintenance-free technology, luminescent signs and markings offer the ultimate safety assurance for low visibility evacuations, remaining easily visible through thick smoke and dust.
Considerations for Buying Luminescent Signage and Markings
Compared to backup lighting, luminescent signage and markings have four advantages: they are less expensive to implement, less expensive to maintain, require no outside assistance to implement, and offer top reliability. Even so, there are some considerations to make before buying them, such as: whether your enclosures let in direct sunlight, which compromises photoluminescent material; the level of foot traffic your enclosures receive under normal conditions (the markings should be kept clean for maximum photon absorption); and the level of ambient lighting contained in your enclosures, which provides for photon absorption. For these and other considerations, contacting a seller of photoluminescent safety products is the best option.