Signage in buildings and stairways is a critical way to save time and lives in the event of an emergency situation. The ability to navigate a building is as important for fire personnel as is their communication equipment, protective gear, and response apparatus.
Without reliable information about their location and available access points the time to respond increases, as does the level of danger. With a small amount of effort we can use signage to make our jobs and buildings safer.
Consider these three things that all stairway signs should indicate:
- What stairway are you in?
Stair A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, North, South. Make sure the label on your signage matches the drawings and the descriptor on the fire alarm panel the fire service will look at if they are responding to an emergency.
- What floor are you on?
This is self-explanatory and should also align with the fire alarm panel descriptor.
- What floors does this stairway serve?
This is important when response time is a critical factor. Imagine reaching the top of a set of stairs only to find out you can’t access the roof. Specific examples include: B1-Roof, No Mechanical Mezzanine Access, No Basement Access.
Signage in buildings and on construction sites is critical for fire safety. It is a relatively small intervention that can save lives, and it is required by code. For details on stairway identification, check out NFPA 101 Chapter 18.104.22.168.4 or the code of record in your community.
Another common code is the IBC (see section 1023 for signage details) https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IFC2021P1/chapter-10-means-of-egress
Also, don’t forget accessibility! Let me know if you’d like to hear more about what the accessibility codes have to say about signage?