This applies to display material, not your product set in its natural state. Complete display rules are outlined in rules by booth type section.
     Standard inline booth – 8 feet
     Perimeter booth – 12 feet
     Island booths – 20 feet

IMPORTANT – Please be considerate of others when designing your booth, every exhibitor has the right to be visible!

Inline booths must not exceed 4 feet high, 5 feet in from the aisle (front half of the booth). Please be respectful of your neighbors when placing your product. An island booth with any dimension greater than 30 feet and a perimeter wall greater than 4 feet in height must have an opening of at least 10 feet wide every 20 feet. If you have questions on your booth type or the guidelines contact

No display material of any kind, including, but not limited to, signs, banners or logos may be suspended from the ceiling.  No balloons or blimps may be suspended or tethered. Island booths may hang truss for lighting purposes, but no signage or display materials may be attached to this truss. If your ground supported equipment needs special tie-offs to the ceiling for additional safety, please contact Shawn Boon, for approval in advance.
Double-decker booths or booths with ceilings (including tents) were previously required to be equipped with fire safety devices. However, our Fire Safety Department and major show contractors have worked with the CFD to develop specific codes for the trade show environment that would offer a safe and cost-effective alternative to sprinklers.

These specific requirements apply to all exhibits that have a ceiling or second story.

Booths fall into one of the five following booth formats:

Format 1:          Exhibits with two stories fewer than 225 square feet

Format 2:         Exhibits with two stories at or over 225 square feet

Format 3:         Exhibits with ceilings under 225 square feet

Format 4:          Exhibits with ceilings at or over 225 square feet

Format 5:          Multiple-level exhibits, which require automatic sprinklers or any of the above exhibits with installed automatic sprinklers. Separate fire code items apply.

For booth formats 1–4, you will need to comply with the fire code items marked yes on the following table:

Fire Code Compliance

Exhibits with Multiple Levels or Ceilings

Fire Code Item Booth Format
1 2 3 4
1. Max. Dimensions Yes Yes No Yes
2. Second Level Yes Yes No No
3. Exit Stairways Yes Yes No No
4. Smoke Detectors Yes Yes Yes Yes
5. Fire Extinguishers Yes Yes Yes Yes
6. Posted Certificate of Fire Retardancy No Yes No Yes
7. Certified Approval Yes Yes No Yes
8. Fire Marshal Review Yes Yes Yes Yes

For exhibits using automatic sprinklers, the amount and type of sprinkler coverage needed depends on the booth specifications. If automatic sprinklers are preferred, or are required, contact our Fire Safety Office to discuss your options.

Fire Code Items for Multiple Level Booths

  • Maximum Dimensions: To avoid the sprinkler requirement, your exhibit must be less than or equal to 2 levels high (maximum 30-foot elevation) or 5,000 square feet of enclosed area.
  • Second Level: Second levels must remain open and uncovered. If they are covered, sprinkler protection will be required.  Booths with a third level or more must also have special sprinkler coverage.
  • Staircases: Staircases between levels must be in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and meet the following requirements:
    • Minimum of 3 feet in width
    • Provide a handrail on at least one side
    • Provide handrails a maximum of 1-1/2 inches in circumference and turned into walls
    • Not be spiral or winding
    • If the top deck is designed to hold over 10 people, or exceeds 1,200 square feet in area, a second staircase is required which must be remote from the main staircase and meet the same construction requirements.
  • Smoke Detectors: All areas under the second level or ceiling, including closets, need to be equipped with a UL approved (or similarly approved), battery-operated smoke detector. If this space is enclosed after hours, the smoke detector must be audible outside the enclosed area.
  • Fire Extinguishers: A UL-approved (or similarly approved) 2-1/2 pound ABC-type fire extinguisher must be posted in a clearly visible and readily accessible area for each 500 square-foot enclosure.
  • Posted Certificate of Fire Retardancy: A certificate verifying the fire retardancy of your booth construction materials must be posted in a conspicuous place within the exhibit.
  • Certified Approval: After the booth has been designed, the blueprints must be approved and stamped by a licensed professional structural engineer. These blueprints should include dimensions and an isometric rendering. This approval applies to all booth formats outlined previously.
  • Fire Safety Review: Send stamped blueprints to McCormick Place for review with the Fire Safety Division and by the CFD at least 60 days before the show opens to allow sufficient time for any needed corrections. Be sure that plans show dimensions and an isometric rendering of your exhibit. In addition, all areas requiring sprinkler protection must be highlighted. If plans are not provided on time, it may cause delays or disapproval of your booth to occur during the pre-show fire inspection.
  • Fire Guards: Once a multiple level booth or a booth with a ceiling is built and completed, and whenever the exhibit or show is closed for business, special fire watch coverage is required. Use of individuals designated as fire guards is subject to prior approval by the McCormick Place Fire Safety Manager.
All demonstration equipment including the operator’s position must be located at least one foot removed from the aisle line of the exhibit area.
Exhibitors are to abide by specific display regulations for all booth configurations that are outlined in the Booth Rules section of this website. Display regulations will be repeated in the Exhibitor Manual which will be available online in the fall prior to the conference. Notwithstanding any display regulations, display material in an island booth may not exceed 20 feet in height, and no signs, banners, etc. may be hung from the ceiling. Show management shall authorize the official contractor to cover any exposed unfinished backwall, sidewall and to carpet all uncovered floorspace at exhibitor’s expense if undone by the exhibitor by 4:00 p.m. Monday before opening day.

Under no circumstances may the weight of any equipment or exhibit material exceed the Exposition Facility’s maximum floor load. The Exhibitor accepts full and sole responsibility for any injury or damage to property or person resulting from failure knowingly or otherwise, to distribute the load of its exhibit material in conformity with the maximum floor load specifications.The floor load of the South Buliding in McCormick Place exhibit halls is 400 lbs per square foot. Specs for any equipment that that may be close to this load should be submitted to Freeman, please be sure to indicate location of the equipment in your booth and on the overall floorplan.



Any demonstration or activity that results in excessive obstruction of aisles or prevents ready access to adjoining Exhibitors’ booths shall be suspended for any periods specified by Exposition Management.

End-caps are NOT permitted. Linear booths must be next to each other (not back-to-back) - cannot combine two end booths to face a "main" aisle.