Photoluminescence (PL) in NYC – Then and Now

What is it?

Photolum2PHOTOLUMINESCENT. The property of emitting light as the result of absorption of visible light, which continues for a length of time after excitation (2009 IBC)

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 Westin1photo).

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.

Oh Canada!

To our neighbors up North, did you know that fire and smoke damper, fire stop flap, and fire door inspection and repair are required by code? Here are 7 tips to keep your facility in compliance:

  1. Fire and smoke damper survey to indentify all of the dampers in your facility.
  2. Fire and smoke damper inspections to ensure compliance with NFPA Codes 80, 105 and NFPA 101 (in provinces that have adopted it), as well as the National Building Codes Section 3.1.8 and the National Fire Code Section 2.2.2.
  3. Fire and smoke dampers that are deemed inoperable must be repaired.
  4. Once repairs are made, these dampers must be re-inspected to ensure compliance with the Canadian NBC and NFC.
  5.  If dampers cannot be repaired, the NBC and NFC state: “if closures become damaged they shall be replaced.”
  6. Fire door inspection to ensure compliance with NFPA 80, National Fire Code Section 2.2.2, and the National Building Code Section 3.1.8.
  7. Anything found during the fire door inspection that leads to non-compliance must be repaired.

In addition to inspections and repairs, LSS Life Safety Services will provide you with a comprehensive report of all results that is easily understood by your Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). To ensure all elements of your passive fire protection system are in compliance, visit

Three Reasons Why You Should Love LSS Life Safety Services®

HeartsWith Valentine’s Day just a day away, it’s a good time to remind you why you should choose LSS Life Safety Services® for all of your passive fire protection needs:

  1. LSS is an industry leader in passive fire protection inspections. As specialists, we have inspected facilities in all fifty (50) states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the United Kingdom. This includes performing inspections in all types of facilities, including healthcare, educational, commercial, marine, and industrial. This allows our technicians to be efficient because they are aware of complexities that exist in different industries.
  2. Our LSS technicians go through extensive formal and on-the-job training. They have a complete understanding of the NFPA codes and what is required to maintain compliance. With this extensive passive fire protection knowledge, they can determine issues and offer solutions to keep your facility within code.
  3. The LSS staff is passionate about fire safety and that is evident in our customer service. Staff members have flourished in meeting demands, and pride themselves on providing our customers added value.

Next time your facility needs a little passive fire protection love, contact LSS Life Safety Services to schedule an inspection!


Passing The Torch of Fire Safety

The Sochi Winter Olympics are officially underway, and with thousands of spectators flocking to Olympic Park venues to view the grandest international sporting event; we too can’t help but to think about safety.  There are obviously other safety issues facing this year’s games, but have Olympic housing and venues been prepared for a fire emergency? Packed dormitories and arenas are highly susceptible to fire emergencies, and if one in fact did occur, would athletes and spectators be able to exit quickly to safety? 

Leading up to this year’s games, Russia has been noticeably behind in some of the construction of the venues and housing units. That being said, it leaves us to wonder about the architecture of these buildings that were put up in such a hurry. In dormitories, passive fire protection elements are crucial for compartmentalization reasons. If a fire was to break out in one room, dampers, doors, and firestop would all work together in order to keep that fire contained to its point of origin.  If these elements don’t work or maybe even don’t exist, a fire could easily spread throughout the dorm putting athletes in harm’s way. Also, if a fire breaks out in a packed arena during an event, would spectators be able to easily find their way out? Photoluminescent egress marking paths should mark the direct path to safety, but with the venues being put up so quickly, were these crucial fire safety elements included in the construction?

Undoubtedly other threats surrounding the games are of the utmost importance to event security. However, it could be a costly mistake to overlook the issue of fire safety at events that draw such enormous crowds. One could only hope that all proper precautions were taken in preparing for such a spectacular event, and that all athletes and spectators remain safe throughout the 2 week duration of the games. To learn how to protect your venues and dormitories from the spread of fire, visit for more information.

Pathway to Nowhere

Photoluminescent-Egress-Marking-SystemDays after winter storm Leon paralyzed much of the South, we can’t help but find a similarity between those trying to escape the storm’s path and building occupants trying to safely exit a building during a fire. In Atlanta, thousands of people took to the interstates and highways around the same time, trying to outrun the worst of the storm. Unfortunately for them this resulted in a gridlock on all of the major thoroughfares, leaving them stranded to endure Leon in their cars. There were no clear alternative routes for people to take, but even so, by that time roads were already impassable due to snow and ice.

A similar situation could occur in the event of a fire with occupants rushing to the nearest exit to escape the building. If the exit pathway isn’t clearly marked, occupants could become confused and unsure of which way to head towards safety. Flames and smoke also become an issue, making visibility limited as people try to escape. If the means of egress isn’t clearly marked, these people could too become stuck in a bad situation that could lead to injuries or even death. This is why photoluminescence egress marking pathways are crucial in buildings.

Photoluminescent egress marking systems clearly mark exit pathways and doors, making it easy for building occupants to follow. A photoluminescent prepared building can better the chances of occupants escaping and surviving a fire emergency. In the case of Atlanta, if alternative routes we’re clearly marked before the storm, more people may have made it home safely before the storm reached its peak of intensity. Imagine in an unprepared building, instead of thousands of cars stuck on the road weathering a storm, it could be victims trapped while trying to find their way out.

Resident Safety

UntitledWe are constantly reiterating the importance of passive fire protection inspections in healthcare facilities and universities, but it’s critical to also stress its equal significance in nursing homes and extended living facilities. With recent fire tragedies involving senior citizen care facilities, it is crucial to make sure these facilities are able to protect those who can no longer protect themselves.  Making sure all aspects your passive fire protection system, including fire and smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop installation, are in good working condition allows you to best protect your elderly residents in the event of a fire.

If these components of your passive fire protection system are working properly, it will help to compartmentalize the fire to its area of origin. By containing the fire to one area, facility personnel and first responders can safely evacuate those residents that can’t get out by themselves. While waiting for staff or first responders to reach them, residents are able to defend in place until they are assisted out of the building.  Also, compartmentalization creates a protected means of egress for people exiting the building.

According to FEMA, in 2011 alone there were 85,400 fires in nonresidential buildings, including nursing homes. As a result of these fires there were 80 deaths, 1,100 injuries, and around 2.5 million dollars worth of damage. If your passive fire protection system isn’t properly maintained, fire and smoke can quickly spread and consume neighboring rooms or hallways in your facility. To learn how to properly maintain your passive fire protection system and prevent this tragedy from occurring in your facility, visit

Ring in a safer 2014!

New YearsWith 2013 coming to an end, it’s time to reevaluate actions and decisions that we’re made within the past year. For the maintenance staff, the overall fire safety of your facility should be one of those evaluations. Can you look back within the year and know that your passive fire protection system was properly maintained? If your AHJ visited your facility tomorrow, would your fire and smoke dampers, fire doors, and firestop installations fall within code standards? If not, you not only run the risk of receiving a hefty fine, but most importantly the occupants of your building are not safe.

Just as a 2014 refresher, here are passive fire protection system codes that you need to be aware of:

  • Fire doors- NFPA 80 requires annual inspections of fire doors.
  • Firestopping- Several Building codes (ICC, ICBO, SBCCI, BOCA) require firestop as well as NFPA 101 and 70.
  • One Year Damper Inspections- Both NFPA 80 and 105 require fire and smoke dampers to be tested one year after installation.
  • If it’s broken or not working, fix it!- NFPA requires repairs to begin without delay in all of these instances.

Moving forward into 2014, ensure that your passive fire protection systems are working properly for the safety of your building occupants.  For more information on how to maintain these systems, visit our

Fire and Ice: The Battle Before The Blaze

SludgeThe first arctic blast has already hit most of the country, and with the official winter season starting on December 21st, there is surely more snow, sleet, and ice on the way. Winter storm conditions cause problems for people trying to go about their everyday lives, but have you ever thought about the troubles snow and ice create for firefighters responding to a fire call? Snowy and icy conditions only add to the difficulty of fighting a fire, so it’s crucial for commercial, healthcare, industrial, and educational buildings to have their passive fire protection systems properly working.

Road conditions are always a concern when a winter storm hits, and ice covered streets can make some roads impassable.  Driving conditions are a contributing factor when first responders are trying to make their way to the scene of the fire. Also, frozen fire hydrants and water lines can further prolong their firefighting efforts. Meanwhile, while firefighters work against the icy conditions, the fire could continue to spread throughout the building causing more structural damage and threat to occupant life.

To help combat these issues caused by winter conditions, it is important to make sure all aspects of your passive fire protection system are in proper working order so it can help firefighters contain and extinguish the fire. Dampers will help to prevent the spread of smoke and fire through the duct work, and fire doors and rated walls will help contain the fire in the room of its origin. Working together, all elements of your passive fire protection systems can slow the passage of fire, allowing first responders the chance to save lives and properties even when working against wintery conditions.

To ensure your passive fire protection system is ready for the winter months, call 888-675-4519 or visit

Fry your turkey, not your house.

With the preparation of meals and the hanging of holiday lights and decorations, this time of year is notorious for accidental fires.  Although we at LSS Life Safety Services® deal with passive fire protection systems in healthcare, commercial, and industrial buildings, we are always advocates for fire safety in any kind of structure, including homes.  With Thanksgiving later this week, here are some important safety tips if you plan on using a turkey fryer.

  • Make sure the cooking pot isn’t overfilled with oil to avoid spill out
  • Ensure your turkey is completely thawed out before placing it into the fryer
  • The turkey fryer should be placed outside and away from any flammable materials
  • Be careful not to touch the lid or handles without protection
  • Make sure the fryer is on a flat service; fryers can easily tip over

For more information about turkey fryer safety, head to the UL Website.

What’s really scary? A faulty passive fire protection system.

PumpkinsWith Halloween only a couple of days away, there are plenty of scares waiting for us around every corner. However, something that’s truly scary is the possible faulty fire or smoke dampers, an improperly installed firestop UL system, or maybe even a broken or missing component of a fire door. These dangers could be hidden in our healthcare facilities, universities, and commercial buildings. All of these things can contribute to the failure of a facilities passive fire protection system in the event of a fire, leaving building occupants to fend for themselves.

Fire and smoke dampers, fire Doors, and firestop systems work together in the event of a fire to compartmentalize and stop the spread to the rest of the building. If one piece doesn’t properly work, it decreases the efficiency of the overall system.  This means the fire could possibly not be contained to a certain area, increasing the amount of structural damage as well as risk to building occupants. That being said, it’s crucial that all parts of the overall passive fire protection system are properly working in order to best combat a fire.

If you are scared that some parts of your passive fire protection system aren’t working properly, contact LSS Life Safety Services® for a fire and smoke damper inspection, fire door inspection, and firestop installation.