Emergency Lighting

Importance of Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and well-being of individuals in various settings during unforeseen events such as power outages, fires, or other emergencies. It is designed to provide illumination when the normal lighting systems fail, enabling people to safely evacuate a building or navigate through potentially hazardous areas.


Purpose of Emergency Lighting

The primary purpose of emergency lighting is to prevent panic, minimise injuries, and facilitate effective emergency response. In situations where the primary power supply is interrupted, emergency lighting systems automatically activate, offering reliable and immediate illumination. This enables occupants to quickly locate emergency exits, escape routes, fire extinguishers, and other life-saving equipment.

Emergency lighting or escape route lighting is a back-up lighting source that typically operates in the event of a power outage where the mains power supply is lost and normal electrical lighting fails. Emergency escape lighting can operate in similar situations including loss of power due to a fire. Where there are emergency lights installed, sudden periods of darkness which could lead to danger to occupants can be avoided. 

Components of Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting systems comprise a range of lighting solutions, including exit signs, emergency luminaires, and standby lighting. Exit signs are strategically placed throughout buildings to clearly mark escape routes and guide people towards safety. These signs are often equipped with battery backup to ensure their functionality during power failures.

Emergency luminaires are designed to provide sufficient illumination in critical areas such as stairwells, corridors, and open spaces. They are equipped with rechargeable batteries or alternative power sources to ensure continuous operation in emergencies. Standby lighting systems, on the other hand, provide temporary lighting in areas where immediate restoration of normal lighting is essential, such as hospitals, data centers, or emergency control rooms.


Standard and Maintenance of Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting standards and regulations do vary, but they generally require specific levels of brightness, duration of operation, and regular maintenance. Testing and periodic inspections are necessary to ensure the effectiveness and reliability of emergency lighting systems.

Emergency lighting is an indispensable aspect of building safety and emergency preparedness. By providing reliable illumination during power outages or emergencies, it contributes to the swift and safe evacuation of occupants, reduces the risk of accidents, and enhances the overall emergency response capabilities of various establishments.

Legal Requirements

Escape lighting is a legal requirement in support of Requirement B1 of the Building Regulations and Article 14 (Emergency routes and exits), of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. British Standard 5266-1 (BS 5266-1), the code of practice for emergency lighting states:

‘Every workplace shall have suitable and sufficient emergency lighting and that suitable and sufficient emergency lighting shall be provided and maintained in any room in which persons at work are specifically exposed to danger in the event of failure of artificial lighting.’

Emergency lighting is needed to cover the following essential locations:
  • All individual exit doors
  • Escape routes
  • Corridor intersections
  • Outside each final exit (e.g. a fire exit) and on external escape routes (exit lighting)
  • Emergency escape signs (such as an exit sign)
  • Stairways and where there are changes in floor levels
  • Windowless rooms (e.g. basement areas) and toilets exceeding 8m2
  • Firefighting and other safety equipment
  • Fire alarm call points
  • Equipment that would need to be shut down in an emergency (or anywhere else that would require high risk task area lighting)
  • Lifts
  • Areas in the building greater than 60m2

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