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:

  • 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!

What UL 924 Means To You

While browsing our inventory for a new emergency light or exit sign, you have mostly likely stumbled upon the term”UL 924 listed” and the claim that this specification makes the fixture appropriate for use throughout the United States. Without a little more info (like this blog post, for example) that claim is meaningless. A sticker displaying UL compliance ensures that the emergency fixtures installed in your building meet the fire safety codes that must be observed by all commercial locations.

The Underwriters Laboratory (UL) is an independent testing organization that has been certifying various products’ safety for over 100 years. There are UL listings for categories such as laboratory equipment, fire extinguishers, various types of wiring, and many other classifications. UL 924 specifically deals with the “Standard for Safety of Emergency Lighting and Power Equipment.” Emergency lights and exit signs fall under this category, so they must be UL 924 listed for full compliance.

For an emergency light to be considered UL 924 compliant, it must provide at least 90 minutes of battery powered illumination. This gives the building’s occupants ample time to evacuate without inciting hysteria. The internal battery is always hardwired to the main power supply so it is constantly charged in case of emergency. It is also imperative that the emergency light provides illumination automatically and immediately after power failure.

Exit signs follow a very similar set of rules for the UL 924 listing. The Underwriters Laboratory does not care if the exit sign’s letters are red or green, but it is required that they are at least six inches tall with a stroke thickness of 3/4 inch and spaced out 3/8 inch from each other.UL 924 and NFPA 101 have set a minimum luminance of .06 ft. lamberts and a viewing distance of 100 ft. There are exceptions to this rule but the exit signs must be marked with the viewable distance of 50, 75, or 100 ft according to their completion of the test.

UL listings may not be the most exciting part of emergency lights and exit signs, but they are necessary. Just remember: your fixtures must be UL listed and all of our’s are. You do the math.

Edge Lit Egress

We’ve all seen them – big, bulky exit signs that have been yellowed by the cruel mistress known as time and stick out of the room’s decor only to remind you that when this place burns down, you’ll have to follow this ugly fixture to safety. This, to some degree, is a misconception about exit signs. These fixtures must be installed in all commercial buildings, but they don’t have to look like an archaic device that belongs in a museum. For a more streamlined approach to meeting building safety codes, try an Edge Lit Exit Sign.

An Edge Lit Exit Sign is a visually appealing fixture that is UL 924 listed and will satisfy the same set of codes as a traditionally designed exit sign. The advantage to this type of fixture is twofold: EXIT is displayed on an elegant pannel and the entire housing is designed to be minimally obtrusive. Instead of illuminating its letters on a bulky plastic rectangle, the Edge Lit Exit Sign uses a high-grade acrylic panel to display EXIT in either red or green. This fixture is perfectly suited for high end businesses like bars or restaurants that want to focus the customer’s attention on the atmosphere of the establishment rather than an exit sign.

Another option is the Recessed Edge Lit Exit Sign. This fixture is essentially the same as the one described above, but allows the housing to be mounted behind the ceiling so only the panel displaying EXIT is revealed. When properly installed, it looks as though the words are coming directly from the ceiling. This fixture can be customized for double-sided applications with a mirrored insert to create the optical illusion of a clear pannel. This sign uses energy efficient LED lights to provide brilliant illumination while consuming less than 5 watts of electricity at all times. Not only is it easy to look at, the Recessed Edge Lit Exit Sign is easy on your wallet with the savings it will provide through reduced energy consumption.

Either of these exit signs are great choices for bars, nightclubs, boutiques, waiting rooms, or any location with a carefully crafted decor. They are a sexy alternative to the exit signs of yesterday.

Fixated On Fixtures Part 2

For those of you who don’t know, Tender Greens is one of my favorite restaurants in Hollywood. They serve healthy salads, fresh ingredients, and great beers. They also use high quality exit signs and emergency lights. On the way out I snapped a few photos to show you how a trendy restaurant can install the fixtures necessary to meet code compliance while disrupting the carefully designed decor as little as possible.

The first fixture I saw was the Aluminum LED Exit Sign with red letters. This fixture is designed for upscale bars and restaurants like this one. It is finished with brushed aluminum, making at look quite modern while providing a rugged housing that will stand up to moderate abuse. This exit sign also uses energy efficient LED lights that consume less than 5 watts of electricity at all times. It is the perfect fixture for business owners who want to go green by minimizing the electricity bill. You can’t see it from the angle of this photo, but this exit sign is double sided. This feature allows one exit sign to take the place of two.

To compliment the Aluminum LED Exit Sign, a Fluorescent Wet Location Emergency Light was installed to meet the emergency light necessity. This fixture can be installed both indoor and outdoor, and uses fluorescent lamps that provide brilliant illumination. Wet location emergency lights can be installed indoor to provide emergency illumination even when fire sprinklers have been initiated. When there is a fire and a power outage, it is important that the fire sprinklers help extinguish the flames while an emergency light guides people to the exit. This fixture is one of the slimmest emergency lights we offer and has s similarly small footprint.

Exit signs and emergency lights are necessary for all businesses, no matter how cool they may be. Just like office buildings and schools, trendy restaurants and nightclubs need emergency fixtures to make evacuation as easy as possible.

Running Man Origins

Here in the United States we like to do things a little bit differently. We like to drive Hummers that get 7 miles per gallon, stick with the US customary system, and most importantly, we use exit signs that proudly display the word “EXIT” to indicate the nearest point of egress. The majority of the world uses the “running man” pictogram as a universal symbol for “this way out.”

Traditional exit signs are effective, but in countries where multiple languages are spoken, it is advantageous to have a sign with an easy to understand picture and no text. This ensures that people will be able to efficiently evacuate amidst the confusion of an emergency. The “running man” was developed in the late 70s by Japanese designer Yukio Ota and adopted for international use in 1985. The pictogram that would soon be seen around the globe was conceived from a contest held by the Japanese fire safety commission. After the pictogram had been tweaked 58 times, with differently angled legs to indicate a “slow run,” the design was finalized.

Although the concept of the North American exit signs is pretty straightforward, there are some who think the international fixture should be adopted. The argument against the traditional US exit sign is twofold: it is not understood by those who are not English speakers and most frequently comes in red. In most cases the color red indicates danger, alert, stop, etc and can confuse a mass of panicked people. Green, on the other hand, is a color associated with “go” and safety, two things that are desirable when surrounded by flames.

Should the US switch to the “running man?” It’s a battle that’s been brewing for about 25 years with no clear answer. Maybe when we switch over to the metric system we’ll see the light (pun intended). Until then, browse our selection of exit signs!

Tritium Recycling Made Easy

It is common knowledge that Tritium Exit Signs are awesome – they are easy to install, require no maintenance, and save you money in the longrun. As the name implies, they use tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. This creates a steady glow for up to 20 years, but also requires the exit sign to be disposed of properly. You can’t just throw it in the trash like a can of Coke. Tritium needs to be returned to the manufacturer so it can be recycled in a safe and responsible way.

There are two ways to go about the tritium recycling process. The first, and most efficient, is to buy a new tritium sign and recycle the old one at the same time. We ship you the brand new signs and you ship us the old ones with the appropriate paperwork. Easy as that. We’ll even cut the recycling price in half.

The other option is to simply purchase the tritium recycling product from our web store. This isn’t so much a product as it is a process between parties. We send you some paperwork, you ship us the old tritium exit sign and completed paperwork using the included chipping labels, and the process is complete. At that point you are off the hook for the tritium because you have done your part in the responsible recycling process.

Buy tritium, but don’t forget to recycle! Seriously, don’t forget. The government will find you.

Stop Vandals In Their Tracks

For reasons I cannot understand, people like to destroy things. Whether it is in a school or prison, exit signs and emergency lights tend to be the target of vandalism. We won’t stand for it and neither should you – we are proud to offer Vandal Proof Exit Signs. These exit signs are constructed with heavy duty materials and stainless steel screws to ensure internal components are protected from damage both intended for the fixture and incidental. Exit signs installed in outdoor locations at schools need to be able to withstand flying objects like baseballs and basketballs. Accidents happen – thats why it’s important to upgrade to a Vandal Proof Exit Sign.

These exit signs have the same basic features as traditional models, but they are tough. Really tough. Tough enough to survive a nuclear blast. Well, not quite that tough, but you get the idea. Vandal Proof Exit Signs use 14-gauge steel housing, polycarbonate face shields, and stainless steel screws to prevent would-be vandals. These fixtures are also rated for damp locations and can be outfitted with an optional self-testing feature or custom faceplate.

Don’t let hooligans get in the way of your building code compliance. Stop vandals in their tracks today!