What is it?
SELF-LUMINOUS. Means powered continuously by a self-contained power source other than a battery or batteries, such as radioactive tritium gas. A self-luminous sign is independent of external power supplies or other energy for its operations. (2009 IBC)
Slips, trips and falls are one of the major causes of serious injuries every year. Studies show that falls on stairways are often the result of poor design, lighting or visibility. With photoluminescent (PL) egress path marking systems, an image of the exit pathway is created by outlining such elements as steps, landings, handrails and any obstacles, outlining the space to prevent such accidents, should a building lose power or if it is left in dark and/or in smoky conditions. These systems are essential “Green” by today’s standards because they harvest sunlight or recycle existing electrical light.
PL material allows a building to have uninterrupted visual reinforcement, which provides a significant advance over traditional emergency lighting which could become obscured by smoke.
Background on PL in NYC
In the aftermath of the 2001 World Trade Center Attack, the New York City Department of Buildings convened the Word Trade Center Building Code Task Force to audit building design and operating requirement for high-rise safety. These audits unveiled the need for retroactive installation of photoluminescent egress path marking systems and signs in high rise buildings. New York City Reference Standard RS6-1 was promulgated in May 2005, and is referenced in to the New York City Building Codes by New York City Local Law 26 of 2004. This law requires high-rise buildings in NYC to have photoluminescent way-finding markings in all exit pathways, and is supplementary to existing emergency lighting requirements and applies to all buildings, old and new. This law required all high-rise buildings to install a PL system by July 2006. The PL that was installed in the World Trade Center made a difference to egress speeds in the 9/11 attack by allowing occupants to clearly see their way down stairs. Luminous egress systems require no electricity, therefore do not rely on emergency back up systems – they are virtually failsafe in the event of an emergency.
LSS has spent time in over 4,000 facilities across the country and one thing that we have noticed in NYC is that many high-rise buildings were retrofitted with photoluminescent tape on floors and handrails. While the tape certainly met code requirements and may have been the least expensive option at the time, most of it is beginning to peel off. (see photo).
Photoluminescent way-finding systems have come a long way in the past decade – they are made of quality, hard-wearing material that is engineered to last. The top PL manufacturer’s in the business have created non-slip, rigid, PL step-edge products that last the life of your facility*. To learn more about luminous egress marking systems, visit our website or call us at 888.675.4519.