How Did the Need For IBC Compliant Exit Signs Originate?

The International Building Code or IBC was originally instituted by the International Code Council. It was first published in 2000 and since then has been adopted by a majority of the states within the country. Before this publication, three sets of varying codes were used throughout the East Coast, Midwest, Southeast, and West Coast. It was not until the 1990’s that the International Code Council (ICC) began to realize that a uniform code would be more efficient for national building safety regulations. They decided to combine the existing sets of regulations so that regional limitations and other complications were no longer a problem. A fair portion of the code refers to fire safety regarding the process of designing, construction, and alteration of a building.

This set of regulations has specific criteria that references exit locations, numbers, and sizes for a building. It takes into account disability access and building stability. Small family dwellings are the only exception in states that have adopted IBC codes. IBC compliant exit signs and egress path markings are part of this code and must be present so that occupants and visitors can find an appropriate exit if an emergency should occur. This portion of the code is often referred to as the means of egress for a building. It includes marking the travel path to the exit location, exit structure markings, and outside path markings. The maximum number of occupants and their possible locations determine the number of exits required for a building. Special needs facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes are also taken into account along with buildings that handle hazardous materials.

Why Is Emergency Signage Vital for Buildings?

IBC compliant exit signs help effectively mark the route to an emergency exit within a building. They are not simply just a photo luminescent sign that hangs over an exit door or other type of exit structure. While these signs are part of the IBC regulations, all signs used to help building occupants find their way are considered compliant exit signs. They also include running man symbols, stairwell identifications signs, and any other type of sign that leads an occupant to safety during an emergency situation. Luminescent signs have grown to replace the traditional marking materials because they are less costly, highly visible in any type of emergency, and better for the environment. Buildings must have the right number of exits and signs in place to conform to these regulations.

Without a uniform set of regulations for building safety, there is no consistency in signage and markings for emergency exits. Occupants have more of a safety risk if a fire or other situation should occur. Misleading signs or non-visible markings can lead to injury. Confusion can cause trampling and leave people stuck in the building. With proper signage and a well practiced evacuation plan, occupants are less likely to become panicked. Properly placed visible signs reduces costs incurred to the owner due to injury. The ICC put the IBC regulations in place to ensure that occupants have all the necessary information to exit a building safely and reduce the negative results that occur in non-compliant buildings.

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