In 2003 a fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, killed 100 people and injured nearly 200. It was one of the deadliest public-assembly fires in United States history, due in part to poorly positioned and inadequately marked exits. The tragedy prompted Assa Abloy, a New Haven–based door-hardware company, to consider ways to improve its own emergency exit systems. When a local lighting manufacturer, Egress Marking Systems, approached the company’s engineers with a thin, flexible electroluminescent lamp it had developed for hallways called Flatlite, they immediately saw the potential for collaboration. “When smoke rises, the first things that get covered are the red emergency exit signs,” says Stacey Callahan, the company’s director of marketing and integrated product solutions. “Bringing a light source into the door frame and along the hallway makes it intuitive for people to get out quickly in a fire.”
Lite Guide surpasses code for emergency exit lighting, although some states, such as Rhode Island and New York, are considering more stringent requirements. In combination with the Flatlite, the system has four components: a thin light strip that goes around the door frame; another strip for hallways, a low-level exit sign, and lighting in the exit bar itself. All of the components connect to electricity in the frame and will operate off a backup battery during a power loss. Assa Abloy also offers an affordable photoluminescent version, which charges by ambient light, glows for 30 minutes, and can be easily installed by the user, making it an excellent retrofit option for existing buildings.
An electroluminescent lamp or photoluminescent coating and tape for door frames and hardware, hallway baseboards, and low-level exit signs
The electroluminescent lamp is flexible, dimmable, unbreakable, and energy efficient. The photoluminescent coating is easy to install and uses no electricity (it charges from ambient light). Both applications are durable, long-lasting, and nontoxic.
Emergency egress lighting for schools, offices, hotels, hospitals, and other public buildings; guide lights for hallways and aisles in theaters and clubs; customizable signage
110 Sargent Dr.
New Haven, CT 06511