Emergency lighting is lighting that operates in the event of a mains power failure, often as the result of a fire or power cut. The sudden darkness that can occur as a result of a mains power failure could lead to panic and physical danger for the occupants of a building. Emergency lighting is there to turn on automatically and should give enough light for people to exit a building safely. With such an important role to play in keeping people safe it is vital that this lighting is regularly checked and maintained in accordance with British Standard guidelines.

What emergency lighting should my building have?

UK fire safety legislation states that emergency lighting is required in buildings to provide light if normal lighting fails during a fire.

Emergency escape lighting provides illumination for people who need to exit a building in an emergency, such as a fire or a power cut. This also incorporates escape route lighting. This lighting ensures that the means of escape for occupants of a building can be clearly identified and used in an emergency. Having this lighting in place is part of the fire safety provision of a building and a requirement of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

High risk task area lighting provides light for the safety of people involved in potentially dangerous processes. This lighting enables proper shut-down procedures to be followed for the safety of the operator and other occupants of a building.

Standby lighting enables normal activities within in building to continue in the event of a mains power failure. Standby lighting is not a legal requirement but is a facility that some buildings may need depending on the use and occupancy of the premises.

You need emergency lighting in areas that could be considered “dangerous” such as commercial kitchens or plant rooms. If your building has rooms larger than 60 square metres, then emergency lighting is recommended.

How long do emergency lights need to stay on?

This depends on the size and complexity of your building and the time it would take to evacuate. The minimum duration for an emergency escape lighting system is one hour. One hour’s duration should only be used if the premises are evacuated immediately on power supply failure and it is not reoccupied until full capacity has been restored to the batteries.

A minimum duration of 3 hours should be used for emergency escape lighting if the premises are not evacuated immediately. The 3 hour time frame allows the fire brigade time to work in the event of a fire after all of the building’s occupants have been safely evacuated.

How often should I test emergency lighting?

Your emergency lighting needs to be checked monthly and annually.

Every month you need to switch off the mains power supply to the emergency lighting unit. Often, a separate switch with a ‘fish key’ is installed allowing the testing of emergency lights without having to switch off all the power. Once the mains supply is off you need to walk past all the emergency lights to ensure they are working. If there are any defects these need to be repaired immediately. It is important to record the results of your monthly checks in your fire safety logbook.

Annually you need to switch off the mains power supply to the emergency lighting units and then leave the units illuminated for a longer period (usually three hours). The lights should be on for the whole length of time. If any of the emergency lights fail within this time their back up battery needs to be replaced.

Is it a legal requirement to test emergency lighting?

UK fire regulations stipulate that your emergency lights should be turned on and off monthly to test them and have a full service once a year.  The latest British Standard recommends that you have a 3 hour emergency lighting test once a year, during which your main light circuit should be switched off and your emergency lights left on for a 3 hour period to find out of any batteries need replacing.

How can Equiptest help me?

We can provide emergency lighting testing and servicing to ensure you are fire safety compliant. We can test your emergency lighting system at a time that suits you. The results of all testing and any necessary corrective action can be recorded in your fire safety logbook. This record is then available for inspection if required.

Contact us now to find out more.