Federal Signal Corporation is a global corporation with about 2,800 employees located in Oak Brook, Illinois. Federal Signal is best known for its variety of emergency lighting, sirens, industrial equipment, and public safety solutions under brands including Federal Signal, Elgin, Guzzler, Jetstream, Vactor and Victor.
Federal Signal was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1901 as Federal Electric Co. by John Goehst and James and John Gilchrist. Samuel Insull later acquired the company. The company went public in 1969 under the leadership of Robert T. Gilchrist. Currently, the company has 12 manufacturing facilities in six different countries.
Federal Signal was founded as the Federal Electric Company in 1901 by brothers John and James Gilchrist and partner John Goehst, manufacturing and selling store signs lit by incandescent lamps. By 1915, they began manufacturing and selling electrically operated mechanical sirens (such as the Q Siren and the Model 66 Siren).
During this time, Federal Electric came under the ownership of Commonwealth Edison eventually becoming a part of the utility empire of Samuel Insull.
By the 1950s, the company was manufacturing outdoor warning sirens, most notably the Thunderbolt series, primarily intended for warning of air raids or fallout during the Cold War. Many of these sirens have been removed, but some still operate in tornado siren systems. Longtime engineer Earl Gosswiller patented the Beacon-Ray and TwinSonic products, which set the standard for emergency vehicle lightbars.
In 1956, the company became a corporation, renaming itself "Federal Sign and Signal Corporation". By this time, it made outdoor warning sirens, police sirens, fire alarms, and outdoor lighting.
By 1961, Federal Sign and Signal had gone public, trading on the NASDAQ market. In 1976, the company became Federal Signal Corporation.
On Feb 22, 2000, Federal Signal Corporation announced the signing of a definitive agreement for the acquisition of P.C.S. Company ("P.C.S.").
On June 27, 2005, Federal Signal Corporation announced the signing of a joint venture agreement to establish a Chinese company, Federal Signal (Shanghai) Environmental & Sanitary Vehicle Company Limited, based near Shanghai, China.
On February 29, 2016, Federal Signal announced the signing of a definitive agreement for the acquisition of Joe Johnson Equipment and the rights to the name and company.