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Where Should Emergency Lighting & Exit Signs Be Installed?

As with most safety equipment, you don’t fully appreciate emergency lighting and exit signs until you need them. They are intended to illuminate the path in a building that leads to the exit, ensuring people can tell what doors to use to evacuate safely from individual rooms and ultimately the entire building.

It’s easy to grasp the importance of emergency lights and exit signs, but do you know where to install them in your building? If you’re in the midst of a new construction project or you’re making extensive changes to your building’s interior, make sure you follow the applicable rules and regulations regarding emergency lighting installation.

Agencies & Codes that Govern Emergency Lights & Exit Signs

Several regulatory bodies have established codes that govern the installation, inspection, and testing of emergency lighting and exit signs. These include:

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
  • Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
  • International Fire Code
  • International Building Code

In addition to these national codes, there are often local requirements that apply to individual jurisdictions. Chicago and New York City, for example, have their own unique codes for emergency lighting and exit signs. If you’re unsure about the local requirements in your city, reach out to the fire marshal or inspector.

Emergency Lighting & Exit Sign Requirements

As you choose different emergency lights and exit signs and determine their proper installation locations, keep the requirements from OSHA 1910.37(b) and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code in mind.

Emergency Lighting

  • Commercial, industrial, institutional, educational, religious, medical, and many other building types generally require emergency lighting.
  • All exit routes in a building—including hallways, stairwells, and corridors—must be illuminated with emergency backup lights so anyone with normal vision can see the path to the exit.
  • Some allowances exist for areas with large windows that supply a high level of natural light.
  • Internal rooms, bathrooms, and storage areas larger than a broom closet have no windows and therefore require emergency lighting.
  • Emergency light fixtures must be spaced correctly to prevent excessively bright and dark spots.
  • Lights must be aimed appropriately to illuminate the walkway. Bulbs that point toward the ceiling or wall don’t meet code requirements, even if they’re installed in the proper locations.

Exit Signs

  • Each door exiting into a hallway that leads to the primary building exit must be clearly noticeable and marked with a sign that reads “Exit.”
  • Exit signs must be illuminated at all times and include a backup battery for continued illumination in case of a power outage. The sign must consist of plain, legible letters and be a distinctive color that stands out from the background.
  • All exit route doors must lack furnishings, decorations, or equipment that obscure the exit or the exit sign.
  • The line-of-sight to an exit sign must be unobstructed at all times. If a hallway turns, additional exit signs with directional indicators must be installed to show the way to the nearest exit.
  • If the direction of travel is not obvious, signs must be installed along the exit path showing the direction of the nearest exit.
  • Doors that could easily be mistaken for an exit along the exit route must be marked “Not an Exit,” “No Exit,” or a sign indicating the room’s use (closet, storage, etc.).

 

Unifour for Emergency & Exit Lighting in the Southeast

Since 1984, we have been the company to call for emergency and exit lighting services for businesses, organizations, and restaurants. One of the main reasons your neighbors have been trusting Unifour Fire & Safety for over 30 years is because we are a one-stop shop for fire protection services in the Southeast. If you have questions about your current fire alarm system or need one installed, please contact us today at ​866-511-5540.