Emergency Lighting

Introduction

In an emergency situation, such as fire or power failure, emergency lighting products illuminate the path to safety. The type of emergency lighting and placement must be well thought-out and it must conform to certain regulations, thus ensuring it is fit for purpose and can be relied upon in a crisis.

Legal Requirements

It is essential that your emergency lighting system conforms to current UK and European regulations. Failure to do so could put you and your business at risk of court proceedings and large fines. Ultimately, you will be risking lives if you do not strictly adhere to all aspects of safety in the workplace.

Resources to consider include:

  • The Building Regulations 2000-2005 Edition
  • The Fire Safety Order 2005
  • The Health & Safety (Safety Signs & Signals) Regulations 1996

Local authorities should also be consulted as they can often have safety licence requirements for certain types of premises (e.g. places where the public convene such as pubs and cinemas). Other types of premises (e.g. schools and hospitals) are required to have fire safety inspections.

Planning An Emergency Lighting System

When planning an emergency lighting system there are several people who should be involved in the process. These include the end user, the local fire authority, the building control officer, the designer and the installer.

By inviting discussion and expertise from all sides, the emergency lighting in the property is more likely to be fit for purpose and all aspects of day-to-day use and maintenance will be covered.

Any key advice taken on the design of the system should be from a competent and responsible person with experience designing emergency lighting systems.

Types of Emergency Lighting

There are three main types of emergency lighting to consider for your premises (click here to view the full range we stock).

Non-Maintained

Non-maintained emergency lighting is only activated in the event of full power failure. This lighting cannot be used when the mains power is fully available. A mains-chargeable battery pack will power non-maintained lighting in an emergency.

Maintained

Maintained emergency lighting can be set to stay on constantly and uses the mains power in normal conditions. In an emergency a rechargeable battery pack provides power. This type of lighting can be useful where a multi-purpose lighting solution is required.

Sustained

Sustained emergency lighting, with two sets of lamps, is an evolution of non-maintained lighting. One set of lamps is powered by the mains, the other by batteries. In the event of power failure the mains powered set will go out and the battery powered set will illuminate.

Emergency Light Placement

Emergency lights are used to highlight certain areas of your building during a crisis. Along with the escape routes out of your building, these areas often include emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers and potential hazards like steps.

Fire safety legislation will help to explain where emergency lighting should be installed for your particular situation but generally it should cover:

  • Exits: internal and external, ensuring the method of opening the door is clearly visible.
  • Escape routes: both inside and outside the building towards the assembly point.
  • Stairways: so that each step can be seen in the light.
  • Corridors: regularly spaced and at every intersection and change of direction.
  • Windowless rooms and rest-rooms: allowing personnel to find the room exit.
  • Fire equipment: manual call points and fire extinguishers should be easy to locate and use.
  • First Aid posts: allowing personnel to clearly see and use first aid materials.
  • Changes in floor level: whether by step or slope.

Taking a floor walk of your building and identifying these areas by sight will help you ensure that all of the key areas will be covered.

Emergency exit signs are a key feature of your fire safety that should always be well-lit in an emergency. These should be located wherever a change in direction is required and should always point towards the nearest exit.

Testing

Testing your emergency lighting is a high priority as you must be able to safely say it will work in an emergency. Testing should be carried out regularly by a competent person and all results should be logged, either in a logbook or computer program.

Faults to look out for include any delays in emergency lighting activation and bulbs that need to be replaced. The types of test you can expect to carry out include:

  • Function test: interrupting the power supply and observing whether the emergency lights activate as expected then recharge normally when the power is restored.
  • Discharge test: allow the lights to discharge their batteries fully in a test situation and then observe whether they recharge fully once power is restored.

You should consider who is using the building when you test the emergency lights and also keep in mind what the natural light conditions are at that time of day.

By proving that you test your emergency light system regularly and keep detailed records you can avoid legal and insurance issues.

Other emergency lighting products to consider: