So what is emergency lighting?
An emergency light is a battery-backed lighting device that switches on automatically when a building experiences a power outage. In the United Kingdom, emergency lights are standard in new commercial and high occupancy residential buildings, such as care homes, offices, and hotels.
Emergency lighting is lighting provided in the event of an emergency situation where a loss of power results in the failure of the normal illumination.
The loss of power to the normal illumination could occur due to fire or a power cut. This could potentially lead to sudden darkness and pose a potential danger to the occupants of the building.
Emergency lighting is required to operate fully automatically and give illumination of a sufficiently high level to enable all occupants to evacuate the premises safely. Most new buildings now have emergency lighting installed during construction; the design and type of equipment being specified by the architect in accordance with current Building Regulations and any local authority requirements.
The British Standard provides the emergency lighting designer with clear guidelines to work to. BS 5266-1: 2011 embraces residential hotels, clubs, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and colleges, licensed premises, offices, museums, shops, multi-storey dwellings, etc.
Although this standard recommends the types and durations of emergency lighting systems relating to each category of premises, it should be remembered that the standards are the minimum safety standards for these types of building and that a higher standard may be required for a particular installation.
Emergency Lighting is a general term which can be split into five main distinctions.
1) Emergency Escape Lighting is the lighting which provides sufficient illumination so that all occupants can evacuate in the event of an emergency situation or attempt to terminate any potentially dangerous processes before evacuation. Emergency Escape Lighting is part of the fire safety provision of a building and a requirement of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
2) Standby lighting is lighting which enables normal activities to continue substantially unchanged. We won’t cover standby lighting much more than this, as it is not a legal requirement and is a feature which may or may not be needed and is dependent on the use of the premises.
3) Escape Route Lighting is lighting which ensures the means of escape can easily be identified.
4) Open Area or Anti-Panic lighting is part of the escape lighting system and provides enough illumination to allow occupants to reach an area where the means of escape can be identified.
5) High-risk Task area lighting is lighting which will provide sufficient illumination so that an operator can terminate a potentially dangerous process or carry out proper shut-down procedures before evacuating the premises.
Regular testing is mandatory
In the UK there are specific legal requirements concerning Emergency Lighting their use and regular testing.