Code requirements in New York City governing emergency exit signs and lighting are among the most stringent in the nation. The majority of US cities set rules for exit signs and lighting based on the requirements set forth in the National Electrical Code (NEC). New York City’s requirements are much stricter.
The emergency exit sign and lighting requirements in New York City are all about visibility. All points of egress — including exits to the outside, hallways, stairwells, and doors leading to exits — must be clearly marked with an approved exit sign.
The signage must be readily visible from any direction. Depending on the orientation of the door or exit in relation to the corridor or hallway leading to it, the sign may be either flat against the wall or perpendicular to it. In some cases, when an exit door is at the intersection of two hallways, both orientations of exit signs may be required.
When purchasing exit signs, it is important to understand that New York City has very specific design requirements. The letters for the word “Exit” must be red in color and 8 inches tall, with a 1-inch stroke, or line width. The sign itself, not including the letters, must be white, translucent, or aluminum (light grey) in color. For signs that are internally lit, the lighting must be red, not white, with a luminescence of at least 250 foot-lamberts.
Photoluminescent Markings & Local Law 26
To provide visibility during blackouts, fire, and other emergency situations, New York City’s Local Law 26 requires commercial buildings over 75 feet in height to have visible photoluminescent egress markings. In order to remain visible in the event of smoke, these markings must be mounted lower on the wall.
Photoluminescent markings feature glow-in-the-dark material that absorbs and stores energy from daylight or artificial lighting. They must remain visible for at least eight hours after being exposed to light and, in order to ensure they are safe and illuminate even in the darkest or smokiest conditions, must be inspected for brightness periodically. They are also tested for washability, non-toxicity, non-radioactivity, and surface flammability.
Inspection & Testing Requirements
Fire safety requirements for commercial buildings in New York City — including mandated inspection and testing of emergency exit signs, lighting, and photoluminescent markings — are set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code and OSHA.
Remember to schedule the inspection and testing of your emergency exit signs and lighting with your certified fire protection professional. It’s the law!
Ask us about Total Fire Protection’s emergency exit lights and exit signs installation, inspection, maintenance and testing services. Call (718) 785-8297 for a free quote.