Typical emergency exit sign
Emergency lighting is primarily intended to provide sufficient illumination to enable people to navigate their way safely out of a building in cases of emergency.
Categories of Emergency Lighting
- Emergency Escape Lighting
- Escape Route Lighting — this is most likely to be used in the event of fire. It helps people evacuate a building as quickly as possible.
- High Risk Task Area Lighting — In hazardous areas where dangerous processes or situations need to be monitored, it is essential that emergency lighting systems are designed to the specific needs of the environment.
- Open Area (Anti Panic) Lighting — To avoid panic in large open areas, emergency lighting must provide sufficient light to feel safe and evacuate the building by the nearest escape route.
- Standby Lighting — This is used to cater for mains failure and allows normal work process to continue.
BS 5266 Emergency Lighting, the code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises, offers simple guidance on the positioning of emergency luminaires, minimum height levels, acceptable glare levels, together with minimum routine testing schedules. Also note that the local Fire Authority must approve all mandatory schemes.
BS 5266 enforces the provision of emergency lighting for public buildings such as:
- Leisure centres
- Retail stores
There is also a legal requirement that:
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.
BS 5266 specifies that luminaires are positioned:
- Along escape routes
- At every change in direction
- Adjacent to any step or trip hazard
- Over every flight of stairs so each step receives direct light
- Close to fire fighting equipment and call points
- Close to any first aid points
- Outside every final exit
BS 5266 puts additional significance on the importance of regular testing of emergency lighting equipment.
6 things you should know about Emergency Lighting before buying low cost options
- Emergency lights is a life safety system, designed to save lives and prevent serious injury.
- To comply with the law, employers and building operators must provide sufficient, effective emergency lighting to enable safe evacuation.
- If the emergency lighting fails to function, then it will have safety and legal implications. Corporations and responsible individuals can be prosecuted if emergency lighting fails to function effectively.
- For emergency lighting to be legally compliant, it must be adequate. Minimum performance levels must be achieved, emergency lighting schemes cannot be correctly planned or assessed without accurate performance details for the specific emergency luminaires to be used.
- The law demands that emergency lights are regularly tested and kept in good working order. Components such as batteries and lamps have a finite life. With cheaper luminaires the life of these items is shorter.
- If a product is kitemarked you can be confident that a product is safe, built from quality components and that accurate photometric data is available. Random audits are carried out to ensure consistent high quality.