Means of Egress Illumination

Q: We have a chapel/activity room that is used for bingo and worship services. Can you please tell me what the minimum illumination of the walking surface in foot-candles is required for this area?

A: Section 7.8.1 of the 2012 Life Safety Code discusses the requirements for the illumination of the means of egress. Keep in mind that the means of egress includes aisles and is not limited to just corridors. Therefore, the aisles inside the chapel/activity room would be required to meet the minimum illumination requirements. Normally, the minimum illumination requirement at the floor level (other than stairwells) is 1-foot candle according to section 7.8.1.3 (2), but a chapel/activity room would qualify as an assembly occupancy and the LSC allows less lighting levels of 0.2-foot candle during periods of performances or projections involving direct light. But 1-foot candle is not very much illumination and is about the brightness of a lit match. So, maintaining the minimum illumination requirements in the means of egress is achievable. Check with other governmental regulations to see if there are greater requirements for illumination of the means of egress. I’ve been told that OSHA requires a minimum of 5-foot candles of illumination for the means of egress.