Is it a legal requirement to have emergency lighting?
Legislation requires all that occupied buildings with the exception to domestic dwellings are to have adequate emergency lighting to safely exit in the event of a mains power failure. In the UK both escape and exit routes must be lit to a minimum of one lux during an emergency.
Emergency lighting is an overall term and is sub-divided into emergency escape lighting, escape route lighting and standby lighting.
Emergency Lighting Types
Emergency Escape Lighting
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that emergency escape lighting must be part of the fire safety provision of a building. Emergency escape lighting is the part of the emergency lighting system that provides lighting for the safety of people exiting the building or attempting to locate firefighting equipment.
Escape route lighting can be subdivided into open area lighting and high-risk task area lighting. Open area lighting ensures that there is sufficient lighting so that occupants within the building can reach an area where the escape route can be found. High-risk task area lighting provides adequate lighting for operators and personnel involved in potentially dangerous processes that require appropriate shutdown procedures.
Escape route lighting
Ensures that there is adequate lighting to mark the escape route of a building. Fixtures with emergency lighting features, locational lighting such as bulkheads and illuminated fire exit signs indicate the escape routes.
Ensures that there is sufficient lighting to keep normal activities going. Although standby lighting is not a legal requirement it is worth considering if your premisses are manufacturing or involved time-critical operations that cannot be disrupted.
Emergency lighting systems with maintained and non-maintained luminaires
What is the difference between non-maintained and maintained emergency lighting?
Non-maintained luminaires are designed to turn on in the event of a fire or power failure, therefore they are not used during everyday operations. This type of emergency lighting is mostly found in working environments such as offices, warehouses and factories where occupants are familiar with the escape routes.
Maintained luminaires operate as normal light fittings and can be controlled with all other luminaires in the area during everyday operations. In the event of a fire or power failure, the fittings will continue to provide sufficient light levels, powered by a backup supply. This type of emergency lighting is suitable for public places such as shopping centres, libraries, theatres, and cinemas.
Emergency exit signs can be either maintained or non-maintained. Generally, non-maintained signs are reserved for areas where occupants are familiar with the layout of the escape routes.
Emergency lighting duration periods
The light emitted by an emergency lighting system is required for as long as it takes to evacuate the premises. Factors such as the size and complexity of the build need to be considered.
The minimum duration of an emergency escape lighting is 3 hours (if the premises is evacuated immediately on supply failure and not reoccupied until full power capacity has been restored to the system’s batteries).
The BS 5266 British Standard contains detailed information on the recommended duration of systems in various premises.
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