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The Requirements Of Fire Exit Signs

If there should be the unfortunate occurrence of any disaster such as a fire, exit signs in a building are the most important things there can be besides the alarm and the evacuation plan.  Any business that has employees or visitors is required by law to post these doorways and stairways that lead to the exterior of the building.  Not only are they required to be posted, but there are specific language written about the placards such as where they should be placed, what color they should be and other pertinent information that must be followed as the state and the federal government mandates.  If not, the facility can face stiff penalties and charges.

The placement of fire exit signs sometimes is mandated by the local fire department.  The marshal will give out the requirements to all new buildings and new building occupants.  The regulations are set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.  For the most part with small exceptions that vary from state to state, the requirements are as follows:

•    The lettering on these placards must be at least six inches high
•    The lettering must be at least three fourths of an inch wide
•    They must be clearly marked and illuminated
•    Depending on the state, they are to be either green or red in color
•    They must remain illuminated if the power should go off or in the event there is any other type of disaster within the structure or outside of it that would render other lighting fixtures dark
•    The lighting can come from internal or external lighting or electroluminescence
•    Each state has a mandate concerning placement specifics

Anyone that is erecting fire exit signs for the first time should talk to the local marshal or call the OSHA regional office of their state to find out what the exact regulations are concerning the placards. 

Lighting of fire exit signs can come from within or outside of the placard and is usually done through the use of LED bulbs and small back up battery packs that are designed to keep the placards lit in the event of an emergency.  The electroluminescent placards are coated with a special, nontoxic coating that uses any light source available in the area to cause the placard to glow. 

Any building that is open to the public or has employees falls under the mandate for this type of signage.  A multiple storied building would become a dark and hazy maze in an emergency, and fire exit signs could end up saving someone’s life.  There are many doors that lead farther into the building such as conference rooms, storage rooms and other types of offices so if they weren’t marked properly, this could end up only confusing people as they were trying to flee the building.   This is why the appropriate identifiers above the doors are crucial, especially during an emergency.  While employees may be familiar with the layout of the floor or the building, visitors are probably not going to have that familiarity and will need assistance to reach safety.

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