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Emergency lighting is a self-descriptive term and is lighting for an emergency situation when the main power supply fails. The loss of mains electricity could be the result of a fire or a power cut and the normal lighting supplies fail. This may lead to sudden darkness and a possible danger to the occupants, either through physical danger or panic.

Emergency lighting is normally required to operate fully automatically and give illumination of a sufficiently high level to enable persons of all ages to evacuate the premises safely. Most new buildings now have emergency lighting installed during construction, the design and type of equipment is normally specified by the relevant local authority, architect or consultant.

The British Standard provides the emergency lighting designer with laid down guide lines which form the general basis for the designer to work to. British Standard BS 5266: Part 1: 2005 includes in its scope residential hotels, clubs, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and colleges, licensed premises, offices, museums, shops, multi-storey dwellings etc. Although this standard recommends the types and durations of emergency lighting systems relating to each category of premise it should be remembered that the standards are minimum safe standards for the types of premises and that a higher standard may be needed for a particular installation.

Areas to be covered

There is legislation, guides, British and European standards that require emergency lighting to be installed and the areas it should cover. An emergency escape lighting system should normally cover the following areas,

  • each exit door
  • escape routes
  • intersections of corridors
  • outside each final exit and on external escape routes
  • emergency escape signs
  • stairways so that each flight receives adequate light
  • changes in floor level
  • windowless rooms and toilet accommodation exceeding 8m2
  • fire fighting equipment
  • fire alarm call points
  • equipment that would need to be shut down in an emergency
  • lifts and areas in premises greater than 60m2

It is not necessary to provide individual lights (luminaire) for each item above, but there should be a sufficient overall level of light to allow them to be visible and usable.

Servicing and testing

To test an emergency lighting system you need to simulate a mains power failure on the normal lighting circuit or circuits or individual luminaire’s for the full duration the luminaire is designed to operate for . This will force the emergency lighting system to operated and use the battery supply.

After the tests it is recommended that the performance of the system should be logged.

C.I.D Fire & Security, have the experience to work on the majority of emergency lighting systems, so if you have a system that has not seen an engineer for awhile or your not satisfied with your current maintenance company, please give us a call on 01458 274555 as we will be more then happy to assist you where we can.