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.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.