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New York City Building Code Reference Standard RS 6-1 Photoluminescent Low-Level Exit Path Markings

  After the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, the New York City Department of Buildings assembled the World Trade Center Building Code Task Force to rethink high-rise building safety codes, review current building design, construction and operating requirements for high-rise office buildings and determine if modifications were needed to enhance public safety.

 

In February 2003, the task force released its findings, which recommended changes to how high-rise office buildings are designed and how they function during an extreme event. The task force focused on structural strength, evacuation and egress, fire protection and mechanical systems. On June 24, 2004, Local Law 26 of 2004 signed into law thirteen of the recommendations, which amended the New York City Building Code and Fire Prevention Code.

 

Part of Local Law 26 of 2004 mandates the retroactive installation of photoluminescent signs and markings in high-rise office buildings on or before July 1, 2006, and it requires the Commissioner of Buildings to adopt a reference standard that establishes the installation and placement of the standards on or before January 1, 2006.

 

Introduction

The proposed Reference Standard RS 6-1 establishes the technical standards for the installation of photoluminescent building signs in compliance with Local Law 26 of 2004.

 

This standard is intended to provide minimum requirements for low-level photoluminescent exit path markings that will aid in building evacuation in the event of failure of both the power and back-up power to the lighting and illuminated exit signs.

 

The markings covered by this standard are not designed to provide enough light to illuminate a dark egress path, but they will provide luminescent signs and outlines of the egress path, handrails and stairs so that occupants can discern these egress path elements in dark conditions.

 

The markings are generally required to be located at a low level in case of smoke and to be readily seen. They are in addition to, not as a substitute for, any other signage required under the building code.

 

An overview of the proposed Reference Standard RS 6-1 is outlined below.

 

Technical Specifications for Minimum Performance

 

A. Mandatory Certifications

All photoluminescent products covered by this standard will be independently tested to certify compliance with the following characteristics:

 

·        Brightness Rating

·        Washability

·        Toxicity

·        Radioactivity

·        Flame Spread

 

B. Additional Certification

Manufacturers who wish to represent their photoluminescent products in New York City as UV-resistant should note that such products will be independently tested to certify compliance with additional standards for UV degradation. Only products that meet this characteristic will be installed in locations that are exposed to direct sunlight or to exterior weather conditions.

 

C. Approval

Only those products that are approved by the Department of Buildings’ Materials Equipment Acceptance Division (MEA) will be installed.

 

D. Labeling

All approved materials will be labeled and identified with the manufacturer’s name and model number as well as with “NYC MEA # _____ BR: _____” in a minimum of six-point type with at least one such identification on each piece of installed material. Products certified for UV degradation will also include the label “UV.”

 

Minimum Requirements for Photoluminescent Sign Placement on Doors

These requirements cover the placement of photoluminescent signs on:

1. Doors that open to exits or exit passageways.

2. Doors that open to corridors that act as required exit passageways connecting two vertical exits.

3. Doors that serve as horizontal exits.

 

Specifications are given for photoluminescent door signs, including those that are door-mounted or wall-mounted.

 

Minimum Requirements for the Placement of Photoluminescent Markings within Exits

These requirements cover the placement of markings within:

1. Vertical exits.

2. Horizontal extensions in vertical exits.

3. Horizontal exits.

4. Supplemental vertical exits.

5. Exit passageways (excluding street-level lobbies).

 

A. Steps

Under these requirements, the entire horizontal leading edge of each step will be marked with a solid and continuous stripe of photoluminescent material. The dimensions, distances and locations will be consistent and uniform throughout the same exit. Specifications are given for the width, length, placement and overlap of the stripe for each step.

 

For existing buildings, side-edge markings that provide returns extending along the leading edge of each step may be provided on both horizontal sides instead of on the full horizontal leading edge of each step. The side-edge markings will be solid and continuous stripes of photoluminescent material, and their dimensions, distances and locations will be consistent and uniform throughout the same exit.

 

Specifications are given for the width and placement of side-edge markings, the width and placement of returns and the overlap of the side-edge markings.

 

B. Leading Edge of Landings

Under these requirements, the leading edge of all landings will be marked in a consistent and uniform manner. These markings will be stripes that follow the same specifications as those for steps except that:

 

1. The stripe will be the same length as and consistent with the stripes on the steps, but they may extend the full length of the leading edge of the landing.

 

2. The leading edge of each landing will be marked regardless of the building’s age.

 

C. Handrails

Under these requirements, all handrails and handrail extensions will be marked with a solid and continuous stripe of photoluminescent material. The dimensions, distances and locations will be consistent and uniform throughout the same exit. Specifications are given for the width, placement and continuity of the handrails.

 

Existing buildings may adhere to the above handrail requirements, or they may also comply with either of the following two options:

 

1. A solid and continuous photoluminescent stripe will be placed on the wall immediately adjacent to and extending the full length of the handrail, including handrail extensions, such that the bottom edge of the stripe is located within one inch of the top of the handrail measured vertically. The dimensions, distances and locations must be consistent and uniform throughout the same exit. Specifications are also given for the width and brightness of the stripe.

 

This option does not apply to handrails that are not adjacent to a wall.

 

2. A solid and continuous stripe will be marked on all handrails and handrail extensions in accordance with the regular handrail requirements, except that such marked areas need to extend only 18 inches from each bend in the handrail and only 18 inches from each end of the handrail. The dimensions, distances and locations will be consistent and uniform throughout the same exit.

 

D. Floor Perimeter Demarcation Lines

Under these requirements, floor perimeter demarcation lines are intended to outline the egress path by providing low-level photoluminescent lines on both sides of the path. All flooring areas will be provided with floor perimeter demarcation lines except:

 

1. On the sides of steps, where they are permitted but not required.

 

2. Where an area is selected not to be outlined because the area is not part of the egress path and because marking it would cause confusion.

 

Specifications are given for the width and brightness of the demarcation lines and for gaps in the continuity of the demarcation lines. The dimensions, distances and locations of the lines will be uniform and consistent throughout the exit. The lines may also be floor-mounted or wall-mounted.

 

E. Obstacles

Under these requirements, obstacles that project more than four inches into an egress path will be outlined with alternating equal bands of photoluminescent material and black. Specifications for the width and angle of the bands are given.

 

F. Directional Signage Upon Entering an Exit

Under these requirements, photoluminescent directional signs will be placed in the stairwell or exit at every entrance so that they are visible upon entering the door into the stairwell or exit. Such directional signs will include arrows that indicate the direction of travel leading to the final exit door. The word “Exit” is not required, and the signs may be located either high or low.

 

Existing buildings are exempt from the above requirements. However, this exception does not apply to entrances into the stairwell that are below grade or to other instances in which the travel direction is upstairs.

 

G. Directional Signage at Transfer Levels and Where Egress Direction is Unclear

Under these requirements, photoluminescent directional signs that are designed in compliance with general directional sign standards and are installed at either high or low heights will be placed on the wall at transfer levels and wherever egress direction is unclear. These directional signs will include arrows that indicate the direction of travel leading to the final exit door. The word “Exit” is not required.

 

H. “Not an Exit” Sign

These requirements state that photoluminescent signs will be placed on doors that lead to dead ends. The signs will be designed in compliance with general door sign standards except that the size, color and style of the egress symbol will be different.

 

Existing buildings are exempt from these requirements.

 

I. Intermediate Exit Doors and Final Exit Doors

Intermediate exit doors and final exit doors are defined as follows:

 

Intermediate Exit Door—When traveling in an egress direction, doors that lead from a vertical exit, horizontal extension in a vertical exit, horizontal exit, supplemental vertical exit or exit passageway but do not lead directly to the exterior or to a street-level lobby.

 

Final Exit Door—Doors that lead directly to the exterior or to a street-level lobby.

 

Under these requirements, specifications are given for door signs, door hardware markings and door frame markings:

 

Door Signs

A photoluminescent wall-mounted door sign will be placed on the wall adjacent to all intermediate and final exit doors. At the final exit door, the sign will contain supplemental directional text.

 

Door Hardware Markings

Door handles of all intermediate and final exit doors will be outlined with photoluminescent material. This cutout or backplate will be located behind or immediately adjacent to the door handle and/or escutcheon.

 

Door Frame Markings

The top and sides of the door frame of all intermediate and exit doors will be marked with a solid and continuous stripe of photoluminescent material. If the door molding does not provide enough flat surface on which to locate the stripe, the stripe may be located on the wall surrounding the frame. The dimensions, distances and locations of the required markings will be consistent and uniform on all doors that the same evacuees will encounter on their route to the exterior of the building.

 

General Standards

These standards provide general specifications for:

 

·        The design and installation of door and directional signs

·        The installation of additional signs and markings

·        Steps and leading edges of landings

·        Handrails

·        Floor perimeter demarcation lines

·        Door hardware and frame markings

·        Other signs

·        Affidavits for existing buildings

·        Reports for new buildings

·        Fire protection plans

·        Maintenance program