As part of Ipsen Biopharm Ltd’s site services planned maintenance regime, we’ve recently been carrying out work to inspect, and if necessary repair, their emergency lighting. It had us reflecting on just how terrifying it would be trying to escape out of a building in an emergency situation when it’s completely dark.
And this is why emergency lighting is so important. Its job is to give enough illumination so people can find an escape route and get out of a building quickly. While in normal situations it’s pretty unobtrusive, and you’d probably barely even notice it, in an emergency it’s a lifesaver.
How does emergency lighting work?
There are several different types of emergency lighting available but they can generally be categorised as either ‘maintained’ or ‘non-maintained’ lighting. Please note that is nothing to do with whether you need to check and maintain your lighting or not! It’s essential you do – more on that in a moment.
Maintained emergency lighting is constantly illuminated. It can double as standard lighting but if there was a power failure it’s linked to a backup battery so will continue working. You’ll probably have seen maintained lighting in public places; it’s usually located in buildings where more illumination’s likely to be needed as people are less familiar with their surroundings. In buildings where people are more likely to be know the layout and escape routes (in their workplace for example) you’ll normally find non-maintained lighting, which only comes on in the event of a power failure.
How often should emergency lighting be tested?
So what should you do? Check all lights and signs are clean and carry out a monthly test to ensure the lights activate and /or continue to work correctly in the event of a mains failure. You must also make sure they fully charge up again once the main power’s back on.
You then need to do an annual test that lasts for the full rated duration of the emergency lights which will probably be in the region of 3 hours. Pick your time to do your testing carefully. Be aware of the danger of a genuine mains lighting supply failure just after you’ve done the test. The battery won’t have fully recharged and this will mean your lighting won’t operate correctly so carry out tests at low risk times when people aren’t around.
It’s also worth remembering tests conducted during daylight hours don’t always give a true representation of how effective the lights are so try to time it accordingly.
As with all testing of safety equipment, keep records of results and if you detect any problems, sort them out immediately.
Is your emergency lighting sufficient?
Emergency lighting’s fitted as standard in the majority of new high occupancy residential and commercial buildings but it must also be installed in other older buildings. Even if your building’s already had lighting installed, don’t forget that if you undertake a refurbishment or change the layout, you must revisit the emergency lighting to make sure it’s still suitable.
Do you still have the most appropriate combination of lighting units and emergency exit signs? Is their location still appropriate and will they still give out enough light? Do they make the most direct exit from the building obvious? If not, use a illuminated sign to clearly indicate the way rather than just a lighting unit. And make sure fire fighting equipment and fire alarm call points are clearly lit up too.
We can help you if you’d benefit from some advice about emergency lighting. Whether you need help getting the right layout following building refurbishment or some suggestions about installing or maintaining emergency lighting, you’d be very welcome to get in touch with us.