Life Safety Code: NFPA 101 Myths and Misconceptions

by | Dec 18, 2019

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) disseminates regulatory life safety across the country and beyond. Since 1927, NFPA 101 Life Safety Code has laid the groundwork for building safety and emergency preparation that has saved countless lives. This has been accomplished by prioritizing proactive safety rather than reactive policy implementation.

However, there are a few misconceptions regarding fire code that have developed over the years. Ron Cote, an NFPA 101 seminar instructor, notices that there are two common NFPA Life Safety Code myths that he notices as a presenter and industry expert. In his 2015 NFPA Journal article “Fact from Fiction,” Cote dives into the roots of these myths and the truth behind what is actually recommended in NFPA codes and standards.

MYTH #1: Any assembly occupancy room with an occupant load of more than 50 must have a second egress door.

Cote states that this “myth” stems from codes and standards regarding common path limitations. Assembly occupancy rooms with an occupant load of more than 50 persons are permitted no more than 20 feet of common egress path. An easy solution to this is to position a second exit door  to provide a second path of travel during emergencies to avoid exceeding the 20 foot limit on common egress pathways. Since the second exit is the most common code-compliance strategy, it’s often mistaken as a part of the code itself.

Myth #2: Exit signs are required at exits only.

Exit signs are required not only at the location of an exit, but also as egress directional support. Exit signs are required in three locations: at the exit itself, in the exit access corridor where the exit location may not be apparent, and always in exit access corridors of new construction. It’s also important to ensure that no signage is separated in excess of their viewing distance rating or the 100-foot default value (whichever is less). Compliance with these standards helps ensure 

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“Fact from Fiction” – Ron Cote, NFPA Journal

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