You see them on every piece of electronics you buy — whether for personal use, business, or work. But what does that stamped UL, ETL, or CSA indicate? These are Certification Marks, and they provide assurance that you can rely on a standard of safety and performance from the products. All products sold in the United States must pass through a battery of tests performed by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) to prove that the product meets or exceeds national safety standards. Products that pass this inspection and testing process carry the Certification Mark for the laboratory that provided the testing (UL for Underwriter’s Laboratories, ETL for Intertek Testing Services, and CSA for Canadian Standards Association). It doesn’t matter which mark the product carries, as long as it is from one of the organizations that are recognized by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
You can be assured that all products which carry an OSHA recognized NRTL mark will comply with the various safety codes (buidling codes, electrical safety codes, municipal codes and fire codes), has been thoroughly tested by third party laboratories to strict specifications, and complies with all current standards.
All emergency lighting and exit signs sold by The Exit Light Company carry Certification Marks. Please see our FAQs to learn more about Certification Marks and NRTLs.
Another tragic fire at a large public gathering reminds us that life/fire safety issues can not be mitigated by laws alone. A horrific fire at the Oakland warehouse known as the “Ghost Ship” has led to the deaths of at least 36 people. The warehouse was used as a residence and art studio for many of the victims as well as a party venue. The building was zoned and coded ONLY for commercial use. In fact, there was a history of code violations. There are laws regarding zoning and life safety that were knowingly violated by the tenants at the Oakland warehouse. Life safety rules are designed to keep the public safe. Rules like keeping egress paths cleared, illuminated, and marked are basic life safety codes in modern society. Strict enforcement at the “Ghost Ship” may have led to fewer deaths or even prevented the tragedy. Complaints were lodged about the warehouse, but the wheels of bureaucracy turned slowly. Now, the District Attorney’s Office has launched a criminal investigation into the incident.
Our blog posting of February 4, 2013 “Surviving a Nightclub Fire” offers some advice about how to 1) avoid or 2) increase chances of surviving such an event. It also offers guidance for building owners/managers.
Tragedies such as the Bangladesh Clothing Factory Fire earlier this week highlight the need for emergency preparedness, including proper exit signage and emergency egress lighting. Unfortunately, a number of similar tragedies have shaped the laws and requirements throughout the United States:
- On February 2, 1860 the six-story Elm Street Tenement in New York City caught fire killing 20. This fire along with a similar earlier fire led to a state law, the first in the nation, requiring fire escapes on all buildings over 6 stories, and multiple exits in new buildings.
- On January 13, 1908, fire during a stage play at the Rhoads Opera House in Boyertown, Pennsylvania killed 171, one-tenth of the town’s population. As a result of the disaster, Pennsylvania’s first fire law was enacted in 1909.
- On March 29, 1953, the Littlefield’s Nursing Home Fire in Largo, Florida claimed 33 lives. The fire shocked the community and led to statewide nursing home reforms.
Read about other historical events that shaped fire code requirements in your own state (as well as current code requirements) using our Fire Code Map.