Strengthening your building’s evacuation safety protects its occupants from evacuation injuries and you from the lawsuits they create. In most buildings, the most important area of evacuation safety is vertical exit enclosures, the long stairwells that are used in place of elevators during emergencies. Unlike other building areas, the enclosures are prone to egress jams during evacuations due to their high body content, a situation where even one person could cause a serious disruption. To prevent this from happening, concerned building owners worldwide update their vertical exit enclosures according to International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) guidelines.
Created by the International Code Council (ICC), the codes regulate the safety of commercial and residential R1 buildings that feature occupancy above 75 feet from the lowest level of fire vehicle access. The IBC, which regulates new construction, has been adopted by all 50 states; while the IFC, which regulates new and existing construction, has been adopted by at least 42 states. Concerning egress systems for vertical exit enclosures, the codes’ guidelines are the same, calling for luminous egress markings, luminous floor exit signs, and luminous floor identification signs that feature particular design elements. Below, we list the benefits that result from implementing IBC and IFC approved floor identification signs.
The codes call for luminous (i.e. photoluminescent) egress signage, and it’s easy to see why: unlike backup lighting, electricity-free, maintenance-fee photoluminescent signage never fails. Nor does it perform poorly in the presence of smoke. Glowing by electromagnetic radiation instead of radiating by incandescence, it remains visible through smoke and dust, allowing evacuees a constant source of information about their location within the enclosure.
2. Quality of Information
All floor identification signs indicate building level. But there is other information that helps evacuees to make informed decisions as well. In addition to indicating level in numeric characters, IBC and IFC floor identification signs indicate: building level in Braille, total number of floors within an enclosure, availability of roof access, and the level of and direction toward the building exit. Unless a sign contains this data, it leaves evacuees to wonder about critical pieces of information.
3. Effect on Evacuees
Regardless of how well they’re rehearsed, evacuations typically involve a sense of panic; and, as mentioned above, reducing that panic can mean the difference between evacuations that feature no injuries or casualties and those that do. IBC and IFC identification signage helps evacuees to remain confident about their escape by providing information that helps to keep panic from setting in. When evacuees feel more in control of their evacuation, it translates into evacuations that occur more expediently due to a lack of behavior that disrupts egress flow.