Emergency lighting; something that most of us won’t notice is even there but will rely upon heavily in the event of a loss of power to a building. For this reason, emergency lighting is now a legal requirement for all commercial buildings and is also a good idea for the home.
If you’re a commercial landlord, duty or key holder, it is your responsibility to make sure that your emergency lighting system is working fully and is regularly tested. In addition, here are five things you should also know.
Emergency Lighting Testing Isn’t Just a Tick Box Exercise
It is easy to become complacent with the testing of emergency lighting systems. Most nominated parties will just go through the routine of making sure each light fitting is operational but good building management is much more involved.
- Lighting Duration – There is a minimum requirement for the provision of at least one hours’ worth of light in the event of a power cut. This duration is extended to three hours within certain types of buildings such as hotels, residential homes and all buildings with more than 10 floors.
If you have never checked the amount of power available from your backup generator, give it a test one weekend when the building is unoccupied. This will highlight any deficiencies within the system.
- Appropriate Signage – An effective emergency lighting system is also designed to highlight the nearest evacuation route from a building. An illuminated glass or Perspex “running man” sign should be positioned within circulation areas in the direction of travel as well as above fire exit doors.
- Does It Work? – Routine testing has been mandatory since 1997 and this testing has to involve the manual checking of the system. A visual inspection without the operation of the system is not sufficient as any malfunction will not be apparent.
- Lighting for Visual Impairments – In some instances it may be required to install an auditory system in conjunction with emergency lighting. This is because visually impaired occupants may have difficulty finding their way in an already low light environment.
Any muster points where people are expected to assemble should also contain light fittings with a greater level of light output.
- Risk Assessments Are Vital – Although the regulations are clear in that emergency lighting systems need to be provided, they don’t go into the extent of each installation required for specific use cases.
This means that areas of high risk will usually need greater provision for emergency lighting and a highly detailed evacuation procedure whereas a smaller, less occupied environment may be able to get away with something much more basic.
If you’re in doubt over what is required for a new building or upgrade to an existing system, consult a specialist for a fire risk assessment. This assessment can then be passed onto an electrical contractor or electrician who will be able to carry out any work needed on your behalf. If you require an electrician in Wolverhampton and the surrounding areas then consult your local directory or perform a web search. Most will also be able to offer any needed advice.
The safety of any buildings occupants is paramount so make sure that you’re aware of your obligations.