There is little or no warning that a fire has started and that it has quickly gone out of control.
So it is extremely important that all preparations for proper egress be made, including signage well in advance and then practiced (drilled) over and over so that there be no mistakes should there actually be a fire. With that in mind, OSHA created the Means of Egress Standard.
The first set of signs to be placed would include the name of the WARDENS.They are the people that the employer or someone designated by the employer selects to act as the leaders of groups of employees to assist in leading them to safe locations.
Other signage that should be placed at key locations throughout the facility is “Floor Plans” which clearly show the emergency escape routes. The use of color-coding for various groups can aid in knowing exactly where to go to leave the facility quickly. Another important sign would indicate the SAFE AREA to exit to. An exit sign has to be made to withstand harsh conditions, so they should be made from heavy-duty laminated plastic.
Every exit sign must have the word "EXIT" in plainly legible letters not less than 6 inches high, with the thickness of the letters not less than 3.4 inch wide. Any door, passage or stairway that is neither an exit nor a way of exit access, and which is located or arranged and could be mistaken for an exit, is to be identified by a sign reading "NOT AN EXIT" or similar designation. So there be no confusion, signs should identify all areas that are not for egress such as "To Basement", "Storeroom", "Linen Closet.”
Exit signs are available in many different shapes, sizes and styles. It is important to pick the correct type for each location and purpose.
Lighted EXIT signs are available in three different types. A Lighted EXIT sign that has a UL Dry Rating is generally used indoors in an area that is not directly exposed to moisture. A Lighted EXIT sign with a UL Damp Rating is generally used in an enclosed area that can be protected from the outdoor elements. A Lighted EXIT sign with a UL Wet Rating has been designed to be used outdoors and will be under conditions of fog, rain and snow.
Photo luminescent safety signs remain visible to observers for an extended period of time during a blackout, underneath a heavy smoke layer or simply at night. The luminance duration is determined by the quality of the photo luminescent (standardsafety grade or higher performing power qualities), the type of ambient lighting at the installation site and the charging time. While color (e.g., red or green) cannot be perceived by the human eye over an extended period of time in full darkness (scotopic vision), the photo luminescent figures and graphics of the sign are obvious and very clear.
There are a number of special messages for Fire Egress signs. There is the standard EXIT as well as EXIT signs that contain an arrow either RIGHT or LEF, Both or NOT AN EXIT where applicable. There are Handicapped/Accessible Signs, also with arrows LEFT, RIGHT, Both or Not Accessible. Other signs for egress include: EMERGENCY EVACUATION ROUTE, FIRE LANE, IN CASE OF FIRE and DO NOT USE THE ELEVATORS.
Planning for Fire emergencies is one of the most important functions for a facilities manager. Proper preparation saves lives.