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  • Payton Walters

Behind the Light: A Brief History of Photoluminescent Marking



By: Payton Walters

April 15, 2019




  • 1984 - Haunted House fire at Great Adventure Amusement Park kills eight. The Life Safety Code is modified to require directional exit marking in special amusement buildings.

  • 1990 - Scandinavian Star cruise ship fire kills 158. The International Maritime Organization passes a law in 1993 requiring pathway marking on all cruise ships and ferries by October 1997.

  • 1993 - Bombing of World Trade Center kills six and injures more than 1,000. The bomb knocks out normal and emergency lighting. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey install photoluminescent pathway marking in the stairs.

  • 1999 - Following a deadly train wreck, the American Public Transit Association releases guidelines for installing pathway marking on commuter trains by 2006.

  • 2000 - NFPA 101 is modified to include the use of photoluminescent exit signs.

  • 2001 - September 11th attacks result in collapse of World Trade Center towers. Survivors report that the photoluminescent pathway marking assisted them in their escape. In the Pentagon, occupants report difficulty in escaping. Reconstruction of the Pentagon includes the addition of photoluminescent pathway marking.

  • 2003 - The United Nations voluntarily installs photoluminescent pathway marking in corridors and stairwells of its New York City complex.

  • 2004 - New York City passes Local Law 26, which includes a requirement for photoluminescent pathway marking in all high-rise office building stairs by July 2006.

  • 2007 - The International Code Council adopts a requirement for the 2009 International Building Code for photoluminescent pathway marking in the stairwells of new high-rise buildings of most occupancy groups: assembly, business, education, institutional, mercantile and transient residential (hotels).

  • 2008 - Proposal made to modify the 2009 IBC to require photoluminescent pathway marking in existing high-rise buildings for the 2009 IBC.

  • 2008 - Proposal made to modify the 2009 IBC to allow the building owner to choose between photoluminescent pathway marking or emergency lighting to identify the egress path.

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