Fire Safety – Emergency Lighting

Why have Emergency Lighting?

There are three main purposes of emergency lighting:

  • Escape Route lighting: illuminates exit routes & helps occupants find fire fighting equipment in a fire
  • Open Area Lighting: also called ‘Panic Lighting’. Keeps communal areas lit in a fire to reduce panic
  • High-Risk Task Area lighting: provides light to shut down potentially dangerous processes in event of a fire

You will require emergency lighting if your building doesn’t have enough ‘borrowed’ light to safely exit the premises in the event of a power cut, or in any ‘danger areas’, such as commercial kitchens or plant rooms. Emergency lighting is also recommended in rooms that are larger than 60 square metres.

What about Emergency Lighting testing?

Your emergency lights should be ‘flick-tested’ monthly (i.e. turned off and on) and undergo 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 test if any fail to work for the full duration.  The 3 hour time window is to allow the fire brigade time to work in the event of a fire once all of the building’s occupants have safely evacuated.

it can be highly disruptive to many businesses to have the main light circuit switched off for 3 hours, an alternative way to test is to carry out a 1-hour emergency lighting test twice a year.