Why emergency lighting is essential for proper fire safety

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In the event of a fire, it can often be the case that the power supply is cut to the building, meaning that not only is there a fire developing in the building, but there are also no lights to guide people to safety. This is where emergency lighting comes in.

What emergency lighting does

Emergency lighting automatically comes on when the power is cut to a building. This means that if a fire has started and the occupants need to quickly head to the fire assembly point, they more easily see where they need to go. For this reason, emergency lighting tends to be battery powered, rather than mains powered like traditional lighting. 

The different types of emergency lighting

There are two main types of emergency lighting, these are:

Emergency escape lighting: Emergency escape lighting is the lighting we are talking about in this article, and refers to lighting that helps to properly illuminate escape routes in the event of a power outage.

Standby lighting: Standby lighting can just be understood as backup lighting that comes on in the event of a power outage to facilitate the resumption of normal activities.

Emergency escape lighting can also be broken down into three further categories, these are:

Escape route lighting: This refers to the emergency lighting that enables a safe and speedy evacuation of a building. It illuminates escape routes, such as hallways and stairwells, and also the location of fire fighting equipment, like extinguishers and fire alarms.

Anti-panic area lighting: This sort of emergency lighting is used in places like large shopping centres where the occupants may not be familiar with the layout. The idea is that it helps guide occupants towards fire exits and escape routes that they would have been otherwise unable to identify.

High-risk task lighting: High-risk task lighting is installed to ensure that people who work in potentially dangerous environments, such as factories, have sufficient illumination to carry out shutdown procedures in the event of a power outage.

Emergency lighting and the law

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) 2005 states that, for non-domestic premises and HMOs, the responsible person is legally obliged to ensure that emergency routes and exits are fitted with lights of adequate intensity in the event that normal light fails.

When installing or maintaining emergency lighting, the British Standard  BS 5266-1 2011 offers clear guidance which you should stick to closely. It also recommends the types and durations of the emergency lighting that are best suited to different kinds of premises.

Most new buildings will already have emergency lighting installed at the time of construction. If you own or manage a commercial or public building that you know doesn’t have emergency lighting installed, then it’s absolutely vital that you rectify this as soon as possible in order to be compliant with the RRFSO and to provide adequate fire safety protection to the occupants of the building.

Where is emergency lighting necessary?

Here are the different areas in a building where emergency lighting is absolutely essential:

  • Exit doors
  • Escape routes
  • Where corridors intersect
  • Just outside each exit and outdoor escape routes
  • Emergency escape signs
  • Areas in premises greater than 60m²
  • Stairwells
  • Fire safety equipment
  • Fire alarm call points
  • Lifts
  • Windowless rooms and toilet accommodation larger than 8m²

If you would like to learn more about emergency lighting, or you would like some advice about having emergency lighting installed in a building that you own or manage, get in touch with Pyrotec. We operate throughout Brighton, Eastbourne and Crawley.

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