emergency lighting installation
If there was a mains power failure for any reason – such as fire – just imagine how terrifying it would be trying to escape from a building in the dark. While it may not feel like the most exciting life-saving equipment ever, emergency lighting does an incredibly important job of making sure that scenario doesn’t arise. Emergency lighting operates automatically and its job is to provide enough illumination for people to get out of a building fast. It’s fitted as standard in most new commercial and high occupancy residential buildings but it should also be installed in older buildings that are for public use. What’s the difference between maintained and non-maintained emergency lighting? There are different types of emergency lighting available but in general they’ll be either non-maintained or maintained. Non-maintained lighting reacts to a power failure by detecting it and switching on immediately. This type of lighting’s frequently installed in buildings where people are likely to be familiar with the layout and escape routes (in workplaces for example). Maintained emergency lighting is lit continuously, and often doubles as standard lighting, but is linked to a backup battery so it carries on working even if there’s a power failure. You’ll often find this kind of lighting in public places like cinemas or theatres where people may be less sure of escape routes and need greater illumination to find their way out. Give careful consideration to the most appropriate combination of lighting units and emergency exit signs as well as their location and how much light they must give out. They must clearly show the route leading to the final exit from the building. If that route or exit isn’t easily identifiable, make sure you use a sign indicating the way rather than a lighting unit. Do you need light in individual stairways and at corridor intersections perhaps? Are there changes in floor levels that need highlighting? And make sure fire alarm call points and fire fighting equipment are clearly lit up. If you’re unsure about what would be the most appropriate layout and combination of lights it’s always worth getting professional advice. And stay alert to the fact that building refurbishment and reconfiguration can mean emergency lighting requirements change too. How often should you test emergency lighting? Once you’ve the right lighting installed, you’re part way there – but you must be confident that it’ll continue to function properly. It’s the kind of equipment that’s very easy to forget about once it’s installed but it’s a mandatory requirement of the Fire Safety Order that building occupiers regularly test and maintain their emergency lighting system in accordance with standard BS 5266. All emergency lighting systems must be tested monthly to check the lights will activate correctly in the event of a mains failure and fully charge up again once power’s restored. It only needs to be a short test to simulate a mains failure. Make sure all lights and signs are clean too. You should also do an annual test that lasts for the full rated duration of the emergency lights (around 3 hours). Keep records of all the tests and their results in your log book and if you detect any problems, sort them out as soon as you can. Think about what time you choose to do your testing. In our experience clients often carry out checks on their emergency lights in the day time and this doesn’t always give a true representation of how effective the lights are so ideally test them at dusk. You also need to be mindful of the possibility of a real failure of the mains lighting supply occurring just after you’ve done the test when the battery isn’t yet fully recharged. So do checks at low risk times when people aren’t around. You need to be confident your emergency lighting will function correctly. Otherwise lives could be put at risk and you’ll be held responsible. If you could benefit from further advice about installing or maintaining emergency lighting, then you’d be very welcome to get in touch with us.