Some of the jurisdictions are starting to require exactly that. The strongest opposition seems to be from the Interior Designers and Architects. If it were up to them, I doubt that we'd be allowed to have exit signs at all since they ruin the clean look of the design. Anybody ever seen an Architectural rendering that showed ever a single exit sign (or fire extinguisher)?
That is an idea that is only now being bandied about; one hotel here has placed additional signs at approximately knee-level.
While one ought to always favor "saving lives," I'm not sure that adding signs and lights is the answer. In some ways, it seems like treating cancer with a back rub; and, when that doesn't work well enough, to rub harder!
In the coarsest sense, additional circuits and hardware are only going to provide additional sources of ignition and maintenance.
I think that, for there to be improvement in this area, we need to address two basic issues : human behavior and basic design.
Last October 31, we had a hotel fire that killed 13 of the 60 people in the building at the time. In addition, 25 more were taken to the hospital, at least for treatment. What makes this even more shocking is that the fire occurred at a time when everyone was awake, management was present, the alarms worked, and the fire house was across the street. One factor that likely contributed was the responses of the residents. One survivor described how he heard the ruckus, heard the alarms, saw smoke .... and his response was to stuff a towel in his door, and go back to his computer game! Friends, all the alarms and signs won't help if you fail to respond!
Another factor is suggested by ... well, let me use a shopping center as an example. The "Old City" of Jerusalem has a market area, that is a warren of little stalls, small shops, winding alleys, etc. It is simply not possible, at any point, to identify your position ... and quite easy to get confused. Indeed, quite often folks who think they are carefully retracing their steps find themselves exiting from the opposite side of the city. Compare this to, say, your modern shopping mall. For the most part, even first-time visitors have little trouble returning to their cars ... and, even if they go down the wrong hall, there's an exit there. No blind alleys. No sudden changes in floor levels.
My point in giving these examples is: building layout can either match the 'natural flow,' helping you to exit ... or it can send you right off the loading dock. It takes an awful lot of signs to counter a poor layout!
after 9/11/2001 the pentagon reported that it was hard to see the exit signs (at the pentagon--not at new york) they said they were going to install them at knee level for that reason, but that is the last i heard about it.
As a related topic; The Fl IAEI is questioning sinage etc when the garage of a model home is being used as office space. The question is whether this should then require everything that is required in any other office. If you really did a life safety checklist it would probably just eliminate that usage. I can't imagine how you could really call the garage door an egress route if the power was out. I actually came down on the "too restrictive" side of the argument. I am not totally sure how they get away with not having full egress signage and accessibility in ANY building permanently used as a model and that would certainly apply to one used as office space. They say a model is the same as any other home for sale by owner. I dissagree. This was purpose built to sell other homes, not THAT one. It isn't a home for sale, it is a display open to the public.
One thing I would like to add to this thread, is the fact that if the lights suddenly go out in a place, you can bank on the fact that people will panic. Most people are only in a store to buy things and then leave, most would not know how to retrace thier steps to get out of the place, couple that with the fact that most buildings these days are of tilt-slab construction and often don't have windows, therefore negating any natural light inside the building. Emergency lighting systems here seem to be so poor in providing enough light to actually be effective that I reckon that an LED strip or something similar should be continuously illuminated. Having been a FF for some years, the best thing you can do if you get lost, is sink back down to ground level. I ran out of air from my BA (Breathing Apparatus) set once, there is a 2ft space under the smoke that has breathable air. Some LED indicators would have been really helpful.
This is exactly the reason we should be looking closer at the garage offices in model homes. Trip the breaker for the garage door opener, set a big trash can inside the door to the house to represent a fire and shout "fire". That will make the people who work in there question the wisdom of their management. When talking to the management suggest the people in the garage/office can be customers. Employees are just "meat".
I'm going by the IBC here, but other building codes will be similar. exit signs and emergency lights in rooms are only required when the room is required to have two or more exits. In an office (B) occupancy, two exits are only required in rooms that have an occupant load of 50 or more. The occupant load in offices is typically calculated at 100 sq. ft. per occupant. For this garage/office to be required to have exit signs and emergency lights under the IBC, it would need to be 5000 sq. ft. or more.