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    Exit Sign Requirements: UnderstandingLocation and Installation

    By Mark Conroy



    NFPA 101® Life Safety Code is a book of rules that provides criteria for designing buildings in a way that allows people to promptly evacuate in the event of an emergency. Included in the book are things like minimum corridor widths and making sure doors for getting out of a building swing outward. It also mandates installation of certain products so people can find their way out when a fire occurs or the building is being evacuated for some other emergency. An essential safety product in all buildings is the exit sign. It is important to know that there are two applications for exit signs: those located at an exit door and directional exit signs that show the way to an exit door.

    An exit sign at a door to an enclosed stairwell or a sign at an exit door to the outside will just have the word “EXIT”, in capital letters. While some directional exit signs only have the word “EXIT”, most will have a directional symbol (chevron) pointing the way to the stairs or door out of the building. The signs are constructed with pop-out chevron covers. Once popped out, the arrow points to the way out.

    Exit Signs

    P/N Lettering Background LED 120/277 VAC Battery Backup Directional Chevrons
    LEDAC Red White No Yes
    LED1 Red Red Yes Yes
    LED1B Red Black Yes Yes
    LED6 Green Water Yes Yes

    Exit signs combined with emergency lights (LED4) save your customers money. In addition to an exit sign, this unit has emergency lights, automatically lighting escape routes when the power goes out. LED4 complies with NFPA 101® Life Safety Code and the International Building Code (IBC) requirements.

    Rules for Exit Signs at Doors

    Exit signs are required at the following locations:
    • Above each exit door from a corridor to an enclosed stairwell leading to the outside
    • Above each exit door to the outside

    Rules for Directional Exit Signs

    Exit signs are required at the following locations:
    • In corridors where the way to reach an exit is not apparent
    • In corridors where a person would need to make turns to reach an exit

    New Construction

    Exit signs in corridors of newly constructed buildings must be installed so that no point exceeds the "rated viewing distance" of the sign or 100 ft (whichever is less) from the nearest sign.

    Properly installed exit signs save lives in the event of a fire or other emergency evacuation. Knowing and applying these rules will increase your revenue and make buildings safer so that people can find their way out when seconds count.

    Mark Conroy is an engineer in our Boston, MA office and a member of the NFPA 96 Technical Committee on Portable Fire Extinguishers.Copyright © 2016, all rights reserved.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above Tech Series article are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment ® Company, LLC expressly disclaims any warranty with respect to the information and any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.


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