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Understanding Exit Access: Crucial Path to Safety NFPA 101

Understanding Exit Access: Crucial Path to Safety NFPA 101

David Tabar David Tabar
8 minute read

The Importance of Exit Access in Emergency Egress Planning - Episode 7


Welcome to a comprehensive discussion on the significance of Exit Access within the framework of the NFPA 101's Life Safety Code.

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As we delve into the intricacies of emergency egress, it's crucial to recognize the role of Exit Access as the lifeline leading to safety in times of crisis. Exit Access is the segment of an escape route that originates from the occupied space within a structure that leads to an exit. This pathway is the first step in a three-part process that ensures the safe evacuation of individuals from a building during emergencies; the remaining two are the Exit, and the Exit Discharge.

The Anatomy of Exit AccessThe National Fire Protection Association, commonly known as “NFPA,” defines Exit Access as "That portion of a means of egress that leads from an occupied area to a building exit." Exit Access can manifest itself in various forms, such as:


Corridors: These are typically demarcated by walls that can withstand fire for one to two hours, assuring a protected path of travel; and
Walking Surfaces: These are areas within the occupancy that facilitate unhampered movement and offer slip-resistance under foreseeable conditions.


Compliance with the Life Safety Code’s Exit Access provisions also require adherence to travel distance limitations as outlined by the Code. Factors influencing exit travel distances include:


Occupancy Load: This involves the number of people the building area accommodates;
Nature of Fire Load: The exposure and potential intensity and behavior of a fire based upon the materials or exposures present;
Occupancy Risk: The level of danger associated with the building's use, design, materials stored, available detection and protection systems, as well as anticipated human behaviors under emergency conditions;
Material Storage: Especially, the presence of hazardous chemicals or flammable or combustible substances, including for example, furniture, decorations or plastics;
Building Construction: The specific design and materials used in the building’s construction, including interior walls;
Number of Floors: Elevations can affect the complexity of exit travel and escape routes, as well as exit travel times;
Fire and Emergency Detection and Alarm Systems: The presence and effectiveness of these systems can directly affect evacuation times as well as the likelihood of safe egress; and
Automatic Sprinkler Systems: Fire sprinkler systems such as ceiling sprinklers or in-rack storage sprinklers can provide additional time for occupants to escape by controlling, or ideally, suppressing the fire.

The Role of Mighty Line Floor Tape and Floor Signs Delineating Exit Access is not just a compliance issue; it is a critical safety measure. Mighty Line floor tapes and signs are designed to mark and clearly identify not just vehicle traffic such as powered industrial trucks, but also paths leading to building exits. This is true especially in warehousing, industrial, and many other commercial, education, and public occupancies. Their durable and highly visible products make them ideal for aiding and assisting human traffic during an evacuation. Here's why the products are considered essential safety tools:

 

Visibility: Mighty Line's bold lines and signs catch the eye, guiding people in a variety of visibility conditions caused by fire, smoke, power outage, and other emergencies;
Durability: The product is highly resistant to wear and tear which means they remain intact and visible even in high-traffic areas;
Easy to Understand: In a crisis, simplicity saves lives. The straightforward designs of Mighty Line’s floor tapes and signs mean that everyone, regardless of language or literacy, can follow them to safety.

Mighty Line: A Beacon of Safety for Pedestrians During Emergency Conditions


In the event of a power outage, fire, smoke, and emergency conditions, the ability to safely evacuate a building can quickly become a matter of life and death. Mighty Line floor tapes and floor signs demonstrate their indispensable value under many of these conditions. Their suite of safety products are engineered to provide clear, visible pathways for pedestrians, guiding employees and visitors to exits, especially when augmented by emergency lighting that is required by building and life-safety codes. In cases where photo-luminescent floor tape is used and maintained, when the lights go out, there remains a clearly identifiable “afterglow” for a period of time that can serve as an additional beacon for safe travel to exits, especially where the building’s exit signage and egress emergency illumination is working and has been maintained per code.

Mighty Line Exit Floor Signs


Visibility in Lights-Out Conditions
Mighty Line floor tapes are designed with both high-contrast colors, and/or with photo luminescent properties. The latter feature can become critical during power outages. When normal building lighting shuts down for emergencies, the photo luminescent floor tapes emit a glowing stripe that delineates pathways in darkness, significantly augmenting existing emergency lighting and reducing panic by significantly assisting directional guidance throughout the means of egress to building exits. In such cases, photo luminescent floor tape becomes an essential component to life-safety by reducing chaos and facilitating orderly evacuation.

Mighty Line floor tape glow in dark


Fire Emergency Assistance

During a fire, as smoke fills a room or building, visibility decreases dramatically, making it difficult to identify escape routes. Mighty Line's available photo luminescent  or glow in dark center line floor tape remain visible under lowered illumination that is otherwise provided by emergency lighting systems. These products are also designed to maintain their structural integrity and visibility when it's most needed.

Mighty Line glow in dark floor tape


Ease of Installation and Maintenance
The ease with which Mighty Line products can be installed and maintained plays a pivotal role during emergencies. The products adhere firmly to a large variety of surfaces without peeling or tearing, ensuring that they will be in place and ready to guide. Their low-maintenance nature means they can be relied upon at any time, without the need for frequent checks or replacement.

 

Complementing Emergency Systems
When combined with proper risk assessments, egress and exit systems, detection and protection systems, emergency lighting and exit signage, Mighty Line floor tapes and signs help to complete a building’s comprehensive life-safety systems. They complement the building’s auditory and visual emergency alarms and verbal instructions, catering to the visually oriented nature of human movement. In times of crisis, when every second counts, the intuitive nature of following a line or sign can help accelerate decision-making and thus, evacuation times, by facilitating orderly egress.

 

Mighty Line's products are more than just floor markings; they are an integral part of a building's safety infrastructure. By providing clear, durable, and reliable pathways, they help building occupants, especially in storage, warehousing, manufacturing, and commercial occupancies, navigate through potential disorienting conditions resulting from power outages and other building emergencies. The presence of Mighty Line floor tapes and signs is a proactive safety measure, especially when establishing photoluminescence exit egress routes to augment emergency lighting systems and exit signage. Such efforts help assure that “pathways to safety” will be illuminated, accessible, visible, and secure for a reasonable evacuation timeframe.

Emergency Plans and Drills: The Key to Preparedness


Mighty Line's products are most effective when integrated into a comprehensive emergency plan that includes:


• Clear Emergency Routes: Illustrated in plans, and physically marked via signage;
• Regular Drills: Ensuring that everyone knows the emergency evacuation routes and procedures;
• Continuous Education: Keeping emergency plans, preparedness, education and drills current and up-to-date.

Conclusion


As we close this discussion on Exit Access and look forward to delving into the subsequent components of Means of Egress, it's clear that the strategic use of Mighty Line floor tapes and signs is not just a regulatory compliance issue - it's a proactive step towards assuring occupant safety and preserving human lives. The product’s use is a testament to an organization's commitment to the safety and well-being of its employees, its visitors, and in many cases, the public.

 

Stay tuned for our next segment, where we will explore the remaining elements of Means of Egress: “Exit,” and “Exit Access.” Until then, remember the importance of assuring clear, visible pathways, as well as assuring compliance with the Life Safety Code’s emergency illumination requirements for safe egress. So take every measure possible to assure that safety is well beyond being simply a written policy, but rather, a priority that is both evident, operationalized, and visible to all employees, to all visitors, and to the public.

 

Have a MIGHTY day!

 

Dave

Links

https://www.exitlightco.com/NFPA-101-Life-Safety-Code.html#:~:text=1.1%2C%20exit%20access%20shall%20include,leading%20to%20a%20public%20way.

https://www.nfpa.org/news-blogs-and-articles/blogs/2021/10/15/basics-of-means-of-egress-arrangement

https://www.inspectpoint.com/nfpa-emergency-exit-door-requirements/

https://up.codes/viewer/florida/nfpa-101-2018/chapter/7/means-of-egress 

https://www.nfpa.org/news-blogs-and-articles/blogs/2019/12/11/means-of-egress-in-health-care-suites

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