Emergency Lighting - A Guide for Business

It’s vital to ensure building occupants can evacuate quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. If the power fails, then emergency lighting is crucial in enabling a safe evacuation. However, emergency lighting is subject to certain legislation for both installation and testing, so it’s important to ensure your emergency lighting meets the required standards so it is both compliant and works when you need it most.

What is Emergency Lighting?

Emergency lighting are lights that illuminate safe escape routes and exits in the event of an emergency. They operate automatically in the event of a power failure, enabling people to evacuate a building safely. It’s a legal obligation to ensure that emergency lighting is installed in escape routes and exits. This should have a minimum backup duration of between 1 and 3 hours.

Emergency lighting is a generalised term and is sub-divided into two categories: emergency escape lighting and standby lighting.

Types of Emergency Lighting

Maintained emergency lights stay on constantly, whereas non-maintained emergency lights illuminate only in the event of an emergency.

Standby lighting– This is lighting provided for normal activities to continue in the event of a power cut. Standby lighting is not a legal requirement, and is subject to the requirements and occupancy of the building.

Emergency escape lighting – This element of an emergency lighting system provides illumination for the safety of people leaving a building. This forms part of the building’s fire safety strategy and is a legal requirement of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Emergency escape lighting is also sub-divided into three types: escape route lighting, open area lighting and high risk task area lighting.

Escape route lighting – This is lighting that as it says, illuminates escape routes adequately to enable identification of escape routes and subsequently, a safe evacuation of the building.

Open area lighting – this lighting provides sufficient illumination to enable building occupants to reach an area where an escape route can be identified.

High risk task area lighting – If there are areas of your building where potentially dangerous processes take place (for example, operating high-risk machinery), this lighting provides sufficient illumination to enable processes to be shut down properly and safely.

Maintenance and Testing

Regular maintenance of your emergency lighting is essential. Lights will not operate when needed if lighting tubes are faulty, and the back up batteries must be able to provide at least 3 hours of power following a power cut.

Monthly emergency lighting tests should be carried out either by the Responsible Person on-site, or by your fire systems maintenance provider. The test is a short functional test in accordance with BS EN 50172:2004 / BS 5266-8:2004. The mains supply to the lighting should be switched off to trigger the emergency lights. All lights should be visibly checked in this time to make sure they’re working as they should. The test needs to be recorded in your Fire Safety Log Book and any faults found during the test should be rectified immediately.

An annual test is effectively the same as the monthly test, but the lights are left illuminated for 3 hours. If any lights fail during that time, then the back up battery for that unit should be replaced. Ideally, the annual test should be carried out outside of normal business hours, so the risk is minimized should a real emergency occur during that time.

Again, results of the test should be recorded in your Fire Safety Log Book, and any faults should be remedied immediately.

Why choose Triple Star Fire & Security?

We have been installing and maintaining emergency lighting systems for businesses in London and the Home Counties for many years. Our knowledge of legal compliance, as well as experience in designing, installing and maintaining emergency lighting systems ensures you’ll receive a system that is fit for purpose and works when it’s needed most. Contact us today on 0203 189 1960. Or leave your details and we’ll get back to you.

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