(Q) How can you tell if a photoluminescent exit sign is UL listed?
There will be a UL logo on the sign face of any product that has successfully met the standards for UL 924 Listing. You can also go to the UL website, www.ul.com, for written confirmation.
(Q) What is 5FC?
5 FC (5-foot candles) is a measurement of light levels on a surface. 5 FC is the minimum level of light that must be on the sign face at all times during building occupancy for all externally illuminated exit signs as required in International Building and Fire Codes.
Energy Star® has reported that the average light level in U.S. offices measures 50 FC. However, the only accurate way to check the amount of light on the sign face is with a light meter. Most electrical contractors or building facilities departments have access to this device, and confirmation of sufficient light levels should be done at installation.
(Q) Outside of the obvious (such as outdoors, in an area without 54 lux of light, and where extensive grime has accumulated on a sign face), where will Glo Brite® Exit Signs NOT work?
Per the NFPA, photoluminescent exit signs are not a suitable option where the illumination levels are permitted to decline and where charging source is connected to automatic timers. In areas where illumination levels need to be subdued below the minimum 5-foot candles, it may be possible to use black light for the charging source. This may need to be approved as an alternate but equal method of protection, which should only be presented to the AHJ by the architect of record or a fire protection consultant.
(Q) When is emergency lighting required around a primary exit, and where should it be located?
According to the 2000 International Building Code, the means of egress, including the exit discharge, is required to be illuminated at all times that the building space which serves the means of egress is occupied.
(Q) A potential customer states that the glow from an exit sign needs to beam towards the ground. Is this true?
No, exit signs are not required to do this. The customer may be referring to some electrical exit signs that also have a spray of light from the electric bulbs that shines downward through an opening in the bottom edge of the exit sign. This is simply a marketing gimmick, which gives the impression that by doing this the requirements for Means of Egress Illumination (emergency lighting) have been satisfied. All model codes require that the means of egress in most buildings is illuminated at an intensity of not less than 1-foot candle (10.75 lux) at the floor level any time the building is occupied. This code cannot be reliably satisfied with either high level or low level exit signs.
(Q) A potential customer in the West stated that a person needs to be able to view the exit sign from 100 feet per NFPA or OSHA. Is this true?
No, there is no requirement in any code that requires that an exit sign be visible from 100 feet. This is commonly confused with a requirement that no point in a corridor be more than 100 feet from the nearest visible exit sign.
However, the Glo Brite® PM 100 and PF 100 Exit Signs are the only exit signs on the market that have been designed for clear visibility under blackout conditions at 100 feet.
(Q) It has been stated that, according to OSHA 1910-37-Q-(6), “all exit signs must be internally (not externally) illuminated.” Does the photoluminescent portion of OSHA 1910 override this statement?
OSHA 1910-37-Q-(6) states that “Every exit sign shall be suitably illuminated by a reliable light source giving a value of not less than 5 foot-candles on the illuminated surface.” Glow in the dark Glo Brite® Exit Signs comply with this requirement when externally illuminated with a minimum of 5 foot-candles (54 lux).
(Q) Let’s say that the lights have been off all night and then the following morning a power outage occurs just 15 minutes after the building is occupied. Will Glo Brite® Exit Signs have time to properly charge and guide people safely out of the building?
This question was raised at a meeting of the NFPA 101 Technical Committee on Means of Egress, and, after a thorough discussion, it was determined that the probability of such a scenario was extremely low. It takes about 16 to 96 hours in total darkness for a photoluminescent exit sign to fully discharge. If full discharge has not occurred, then the residual energy in the sign will allow full charging to take only a few minutes instead of the one hour required by a fully discharged sign.
Additionally, 99% of true emergencies where evacuation of the building is required do not include the loss of power to the building within the first hour of the emergency. Even in the rare 1% situation, where there is loss of power within the first hour, there will still be emergency lighting along the egress path and true total darkness will never occur. Glo Brite® Exit Signs will utilize that ambient emergency lighting and be visible.
(Q) The term “unfiltered fluorescent illumination” is required on the sign face of all photoluminescent exit signs. What does it mean?
This term refers to certain fluorescent fixtures that utilize an actual filter to reduce the amount of UV that is emitted from the fluorescent bulbs. The diffuser or semi-transparent panel that is most commonly used with fluorescent fixtures is NOT considered to be a filter.
(Q) How does one resolve issues with the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AJH)?
The term “Authority Having Jurisdiction” is used in NFPA documents in a broad manner, since jurisdictions and approval agencies, as well as their responsibilities, vary. Where public safety is primary, the AHJ may be a federal, state, local, or other individual, such as a fire chief, fire marshal, fire prevention bureau representative, building official, fire inspector or other person having statutory authority. Within government installations, the AHJ may be the commanding officer or departmental official.
Keep in mind that the AHJ does have the final say as to what can and cannot be used or installed within his jurisdiction. Most issues concerning the selection of exit signage are related to education and interpretation of the information available on a product.
Jessup Manufacturing offers you the necessary tools to educate the AHJ as to the UL 924 Listing. We have had the Glo Brite® Exit Signs listed through the ICBO Evaluation Service who states that photoluminescent exit signs meet the following building codes: ICBO, IBC, BOCA and SBCCI. When it comes to interpretation, Jessup has on its payroll a consultant who was the Assistant Fire Marshal for the State of California. He has been actively involved with AHJ education and code interpretation for the past several years, and can speak the language of the AHJ in order to resolve any issues that arise. For more information and assistance, please Contact Us.