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Life Safety Maps: Guiding Employees to Safety in an Era of Mass Shootings

Written by: Juliana Choy Sommer
Published: May 30, 2023
Category: Featured Clients

Priority Architectural Graphics has been a leading solution for commercial real estate clients and general contractors in the Bay Area, providing code and life safety map signage as well as other interior and exterior signs for almost 30 years. Life safety maps provide an essential guide for employers and employees when they experience emergency evacuations and need to exit a building quickly and safely. The life safety map is an essential tool for companies giving all stakeholders a roadmap to efficient exit paths. While infrequently needed (thankfully), these maps require detailed development, inspections, training, and coordination across an enterprise.

Unfortunately, the need for life safety maps is only growing as the number of Bay Area mass shootings, earthquakes, power outages due to wildfires and other climate-induced brown and blackouts increases. According to the Gun Violence Archive, after the infamous 1993 mass shooting at 101 California Street in San Francisco, the number of California mass shootings has continued to accelerate with the most recent deaths occurring in incidents in Half Moon Bay and in Oakland in January 2023.

Recently, the Priority Architectural Graphics team was asked by this major leading tech unicorn to develop life safety maps for their campus in San Bruno, CA.

Evacuation maps are typically required in office settings at every elevator location, in hallways/corridors exceeding 100 feet in length, at hallway/corridor intersections, at building entrances (interior side), and outside of stairwells. The quantity required is identified by looking at the floor plans of the project and the final quantity is determined by the fire marshal during walk-through inspections. Sometimes multiple inspections are needed to ensure the message displayed on each map is correct given the special and unique conditions associated with each project. These inspections are performed with the owner (or their representative) and the fire marshal. Life safety maps are highly valuable because as the name implies, they are there to help office staff find the closest exit from a building in the case of an emergency. In an era of mass shootings, this couldn’t be more important.

“I am proud of my work and the role I take in the coordination of these evacuation maps, from design to fabrication. I know that my actions will assist someone out there get the help and support they need in an emergency” notes Priority Graphics Project Manager, Jean Sanchez. The entire Priority team is proud to help lead the life safety and wayfinding signage development process, design through installation, and is committed to continue providing high quality products and excellent customer support/service.


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