In the movies, fire evacuations are often portrayed as they happen in real life: with evacuees stumbling down stairwells in search of an exit, some of them dying from smoke inhalation as the fire rages on. It’s an ugly picture, but it’s one that could happen in your building if you don’t take the right egress safety measures, particularly equipping your building’s vertical exit enclosures with photoluminescent evacuation products as detailed in the International Fire Code (IFC), a set of safety guidelines that regulate commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire department vehicle access. Below, we list four luminescent evacuation products that are identified by the IFC and why they’re critical for your building’s egress safety.
1. Egress Markings
Luminescent egress markings are applied at various points within vertical enclosures, such as: the leading edges of steps and landings, the perimeter of landing areas, the door frames and hardware of exit leading doors, egress path obstacles, and handrails and handrail extensions. Available in easy to apply tape, the markings remain easily visible through smoke and require no maintenance or electricity, three benefits that emergency backup lighting can’t match. And unlike backup lighting, the markings never malfunction.
2. Floor Identification Signs
Luminescent floor identification signs are posted at each floor landing within a vertical enclosure to apprise evacuees of the following information: the identification of the stair or ramp, the floor level (also in Braille), the top and bottom floors of the enclosure, the availability of roof access, and the story of and direction toward the building exit. This information helps evacuees to evacuate a building efficiently, but it also helps to reduce their panic by keeping them informed of their location.
3. Running Man Signs
A Luminescent running man sign contains the symbol of a running man, indicating that that the door on which it appears should be traveled through to reach an exit. According to the IFC, the symbols should be placed no higher than 18 inches above the finished floor. This allows evacuees to see the symbol from standing and crawling positions, a critical consideration considering that evacuees may lower their position to decrease smoke inhalation.
4. Photoluminescent Exit Signs
Photoluminescent signage offers the same advantages over electrical signage that photoluminescent egress markings offer over emergency back up lighting: it remains easily visible through smoke, requires no maintenance or electricity, and unlike electrical signage, it never malfunctions. As an added bonus, it can also reduce your electric bill by thousands of dollars a year when implemented in place of electrical signage. According to a recent study, replacing 100 incandescent signs with 100 photoluminescent signs saves nearly $3,700 in annual energy costs alone.