Electrician Chris <3 NYC

"The 1835 Great Fire of New York was one of the worst in its history. It destroyed 17 blocks and nearly stopped the upward trajectory of the, at the time, up and coming city. The lack of building standards, heavy use of wood in construction and a undermanned volunteer fire department were the perfect storm for this historical blaze." -Electrician Chris

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NYC Building Code - Title 20 Current NYC Fire Code 1835 Great Fire of New York Our Full Line of NYC Approved Emergency Lighting
Life Safety Products for the Beautiful City of New York

Things have changed since then and now the New York City Fire Department is the largest municipal fire department in the United States, and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department. The FDNY employs approximately 11,000 uniformed firefighting employees, 4000+ uniformed EMS employees, and 2000+ civilian employees.

While most cities in the United States opt to follow the National Electrical Code (NEC) for their exit sign and emergency lighting requirements, New York City has taken a different approach. The NYC Building Authority has developed its own specifications for what egress lighting is required in public and commercial buildings. These requirements are above and beyond what the NEC mandates meaning that typical exit and emergency lighting are non-compliant. Here are some of the main features set out in NYC code.

FDNY Enforcement of Life Safety Code

New York City Exit Sign Requirements

NYC Exit Sign Requirements

There are several design features that set NYC exit signs apart from your typical NEC guided design. Here are some highlights and where to find them in NYC Building Code

  • Exit signs may be externally-lit, internally-lit, electroluminescent or phosphorescent (photoluminescent). In the case of phosphorescence, the sign must remain visible in total darkness for a minimum of 8 hours. (C26-606.3.F)
  • Metal or other durable material for the enclosure. (C26-608.6)
  • Minimum average brightness intensity of 250 foot-lamberts. (C26-606.3.B)
  • Red lettering with white, light gray (aluminum) or translucent (edge-lit) faceplate. (C26-606.3.C)
  • Minimum of 8" letter height and 1" letter stroke. (C26-606.3.D)
  • Self-luminescent tritium exit signs are not permissable.

  • New York City Emergency Light Requirements

    Emergency lighting in NYC follow similar guidelines to the exit signage but a bit simpler. Here are some highlights and where to find them in NYC Building Code

  • Illumination of at least two foot candles measured at the floor level shall be maintained continuously. (C26-605.1.A)
  • Illumination shall be so arranged that the failure of any one light shall not leave any area in darkness. (C26-605.1.C)
  • Lighting shall be connected to an emergency power source or to storage battery equipment. (C26-605.1.E)
  • Equipment shall be of metal or other durable material. (C26-608.6)

  • NYC Emergency Lighting Requirements

    New York City High-Rise Signage & Path Markings

    With the adoption of the 2015 International Building Code into the New York State Uniform Code, the requirements for exit path markings became retroactive to all existing high-rise buildings. With that change, all new and existing high-rise commercial buildings in the state of New York are required to install 'self-luminous' (photoluminescent) egress signage and path markings in stairwells and landings. This is an important implementation as the improvement of visibility of stair and handrails in the event of low visibility also improves the safety for those using these paths of egress in the event of an emergency. Oftentimes, emergency battery backup systems fail due to environmental conditions or neglect. The use of photoluminescent signage and markings are a valuable, life-preserving addition.

    Here are some additional guidelines on specifications of these signs and path markings (click to enlarge)