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Battery Exit Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which code or agency should be referred to before buying or mounting exit signs?

A.
There are various regulatory agencies and codes, including the 29 CFR 1910.35 of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), International Building Code, International Fire Code, Life Safety Code by National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 101), and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) that govern exit sign mounting requirements. Above and beyond these agencies, you must also refer to the requirements of the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) responsible for monitoring and enforcing local building codes and/or fire codes. If you’re confused between these agencies, consult with your local fire marshal or inspector.

Q. Do all exit signs need to be illuminated?

A.
Section 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(6) of OSHA requires Exit Signs in occupied workplaces to be illuminated via a reliable light source. NFPA specifies the requirements for the illumination of exit signs.NFPA in their life safety code or NFPA 101 allows externally, internally, and photoluminescent illuminated signs to be used. There must be at least 1.5 hrs (90 minutes) of emergency light if the electricity fails. If photoluminescent exit signs are used, a light must be provided to charge that sign so that if the lights go out, the sign will stay illuminated for at least 1.5 hours. You must consult with your local building codes for the exact requirements of exit sign illumination.

Q. What are the requirements for the design of an exit sign?

A.
Some general requirements set by OSHA that uses specifications from UL and NFPA (7.10.6.1.1) for the design of an exit sign are as follows:
Signs should have the word "Exit" in legible letters no smaller than 6 inches in height.
The main stroke of the letter (letter thickness) should be 3/4 inches wide.
It should also have 3/8 of an inch in space between its letters.
8-inch letters apply in some places in New York and Chicago. It is best to refer to local laws or contact the fire marshall for the sign’s design requirements.

Q. What are the Exit signs mounting height requirements?

A.
According to NFPA 101, Exit Signs shall be located at a vertical distance of not more than 6ft 8 in. (2030 mm) above the top edge of the egress opening intended for designation by that marking.

Q. Are Battery Exit Signs required to meet the NFPA Life Safety Code?

A.
Yes. According to NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, Exit Signs shall have to be illuminated for around 90 minutes in the event of power failure. The code also states that a reliable light source must illuminate exit signs and be legible in normal and emergency exit lighting modes. Battery Exit Signs do meet all of these requirements and also comply with UL924, NEC, OSHA, Local and state Codes.
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