June 20, 2016

NFPA Rules Require 90 Minutes Of Lighting Outside Building Exits

When it comes to egress lighting requirements, there is conflicting verbiage between the Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), the Uniform Building Code (UBC), and the International Building Code (IBC). This conflict can lead to varying interpretations of egress lighting requirements from jurisdiction to jurisdiction for both interior and exterior areas of commercial buildings.


A good place to start is with a review of the requirements outlined for egress lighting in each of these three important codes.

Life Safety Code

Section of NFPA 101 states, “The floors and other walking surfaces within an exit and within portions of the exit access and exit discharge designated in shall be illuminated to values of at least 1 footcandle measured at the floor.”

Section, “Performance of Systems,” dictates the following: “Emergency illumination shall be provided for a period of 1½ hours in the event of failure of normal lighting. Emergency lighting facilities shall be arranged to provide initial illumination that is at least an average of 1 footcandle and a minimum at any point of 0.1 footcandle measured along the path of egress at floor level. Illumination levels may decline to 0.6 footcandles average and a minimum at any point of 0.06 footcandles at the end of the emergency illumination lighting time duration. A maximum to minimum illumination uniformity ratio of 40-to-1 shall not be exceeded.”

Uniform Building Code

Section 1003.2.9.1 of the UBC states, “Any time a building is occupied, the means of egress shall be illuminated at an intensity of not less than 1 footcandle at floor level.”

International Building Code

Section 1006.2, Illumination Level, of the IBC states, “The means of egress illumination level shall not be less than 1 footcandle at the floor level.”

Section 1006.4, Performance of Systems, states: “Emergency lighting facilities shall be arranged to provide initial illumination that is at least an average of 1 footcandle and a minimum of any point of 0.1 footcandles measured along the path of egress at floor level.”

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March 7, 2023
Emergency lights typically have a battery back-up that will operate the light in the event the power goes out, regardless of if there’s a generator for back-up power. Exit signs can and should also have a battery, especially if the building doesn’t have generator. Often during fire department inspections, they check that your emergency lights are operational, both with and without power. Emergency lights must be kept properly maintained to meet all federal and state requirements, so when installing new ones or updating old ones, should you just change the battery or replace the entire fixture?
February 4, 2023
There are many building codes, electrical codes, and emergency standards outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Building Code (IBC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state and local regulations, and others that provide lighting guidelines and requirements for commercial and similar properties. These include for interior lighting, exterior lighting, and emergency lighting.


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