Photoluminescence: The Light At The End Of The Hallway

The fear of burning is a terrifying thought, however, smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in the event of a fire. In fact, smoke can travel 120 – 420 feet per minute under fire conditions, which can cause hallways and stairwells to become dark and hard to navigate. Trying to evacuate from a burning building while staying calm is difficult enough, and with smoke masking your line of vision makes evacuation seem almost impossible. Not to mention, many commercial buildings, especially those in big cities, will have multiple floors filled with rooms and offices. Since smoke rises, those occupying the upper floors are more likely to face smoky and blackout conditions during a fire evacuation. Therefore, photoluminescent (PL) hallways, stairwells and exit signs are the best way to ensure that people will be able to find their way to safety during a fire.

Photoluminescent egress path marking systems are designed to help illuminate any obstacles that would be hard to see, while the signage is used to clearly mark the closest and safest exit. However, in existing buildings, there may already be emergency lighting in place. So then, why switch to photoluminescence when traditional emergency lighting has worked in the past?

  • Meets requirements for codes and standards in existing and new buildings
  • PL exit signs can contribute to LEED Credits
  • Require no electrical power or maintenance
  • Doesn’t need to rely on any emergency backup system
  • Glows up to 48 hours in smoky / black out condition
  • Non-toxic or radioactive

 

Both the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Fire Code (IFC) state, “luminous egress path markings that outline the exit path should be provided in buildings having floors that are located more than 75 feet above the lowest level of a fire department vehicle”. Otherwise, occupants on top floors may find it difficult to evacuate and become trapped.

 

Other Codes That Requires Means of Egress and Signage:

  • NFPA 101 and 5000
  • California, Chapter 10
  • Connecticut, Section 1026
  • New York City Code
  • New York City Local Law 26
  • General Services Administration (GSA) for all Buildings

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