Chicago and NYC Code Compliance

Chicago and NYC Code Compliance

For most emergency lights and exit signs, a UL 924 listing will guarantee compliance in every city and state throughout the US. As discussed in the previous blog post, Underwriters Laboratories is an independent organization that tests products ranging from blenders to electrical cables to determine which products are safe for use by customers. All fixtures sold on are UL 924 listed, but in the cities of Chicago and New York City, that isn't quite enough.


Chicago has a rather strange set of building and fire codes. Buildings erected before 1975 do not require elevators to automatically stop functioning when a smoke detector is activated and a building-wide alarm system is not mandatory. On the other hand, the windy city has strict requirements for emergency lights installed in commercial facilities and residential buildings. Chicago was one of the first cities to require emergency lights and has maintained a higher set of standards than any other city in the United States.

These fixtures must have a metal faceplate for extra durability and, like all other emergency lights, must provide at least 90 minutes of battery operated illumination. All our emergency lights that are specifically designed for use in Chicago come with a powder white coat, but can be customized in a variety of finishes.

New York City also takes its emergency fixtures rather seriously. Exit signs that are intended for use in the city that never sleeps must meet and exceed the qualifications outlined in UL 924. All exit signs must provide at least 90 minutes of illumination when the building's power has been cut, must be internally illuminated, and must have a minimum of 5 foot-candles from the illuminated surface.

Exit signs in NYC are subject to a slightly more rigorous set of rules

Exit signs in NYC are subject to a slightly more rigorous set of rules:

  • letters must be 8" tall with 1" wide letter stroke
  • housing must be aluminum or steel
  • letters must be red
  • must be electrically powered - no tritium or photoluminescent

So, to sum things up, if you are about to install emergency lights or exit signs in Chicago or New York City, make sure to purchase fixtures that will pass local fire codes. We have a special section for each city in our store, so browse now to get your building up to code!

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