Emergency escape lighting

Adequate lighting is essential in enabling people to locate an escape route and move quickly along it to a place of relative safety.

When the electricity supply to the normal lighting fails, emergency lighting is required to:

  • Indicate clearly and unambiguously the escape routes and associated exit signs
  • Provide illumination along such routes, and allowing safe movements along and through the exits provided
  • Ensure that changes of direction and levels are identified
  • Ensure that fire alarm call points and firefighting equipment provided along the escape routes can be readily located

In practical terms this means that the provision of emergency lighting luminaries will need to be placed at:

  • Exit doors
  • At change of direction (other than staircase)
  • Near exit and safety signs
  • Near each fire alarm call point
  • At intersections of corridors
  • On each staircase
  • Near the outside of each final exit and throughout appropriate external escape
  • routes to a place of comparative safety
  • Near firefighting equipment

The emergency lighting systems must be maintained effectively in accordance with current standards, and the lighting must be capable of functioning at all times.

Emergency lights are classified according to the type of power supply they use. The electrical power needed to operate them may come from one of three sources:

  • Individual battery in each luminary
  • Central battery system which powers all luminaries
  • A generator which powers all of the luminaries

In addition to the above, it is commonplace to refer to systems as “maintained”, or “non maintained”. Maintained systems refer to those which are operational at all times. Non maintained systems are those which only become operational when the normal power supply fails. The systems will require routine inspection and tests, carried out daily, monthly, six monthly, three yearly and in some cases annually following the first three yearly tests.