Emergency lighting is critically important in situations when mains power supply and the normal lighting stops working. The cause could be a power cut, a fire or simply a failure in the lighting system, but regardless of the problem, unplanned darkness can be dangerous.
There are several different types of emergency fire lighting systems that we can choose from with the final choice being business dependant based on challenges and conditions of that specific site. These are divided into categories centred on what they do and where they go.
Emergency escape lighting is used to direct people to the exits and make sure they can safely leave the building. It is a provision of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that businesses have this form of lighting and it is one of the most familiar types.
- Escape route lighting is part of the emergency escape lighting system and leads people through the building to the nearest safe exit.
- Open area lighting is also known as anti-panic lighting and is used to minimalise panic and ensure people can lease the building in a safe way.
- High risk task area lighting is another part of the system that illuminates potentially dangerous areas or processes to ensure these can be handled properly.
Standby lighting is used to allow normal activities to continue and mimics the lighting levels usually in place. There’s no legal requirement to have this kind of lighting but it may be used in some companies depending on the nature of the business.
Another way to divide the types of emergency fire lighting is by how they are powered. There are different options that require site specific consideration.
Self Contained Emergency Lighting
Installing self contained emergency lighting is quicker and cheaper than other options. That’s because there’s no need for specialist wiring or ventilation, plus it’s easy to extend it if the system needs to cover new areas. However, the batteries may be adversely affected by high or low temperatures with a limit to the battery life of 2-4 years. When testing self contained emergency lighting you also need to isolate and observe each individual light unit, which will increase your maintenance time.
Central Battery Source
With this system, emergency lighting maintenance is easier and cheaper with only a single location to be checked. Battery life can be anywhere from 5 to 25 years and the batteries are environmentally stable, that is, they’re able to cope better in high or low temperatures. Savings can be made with larger batteries, offering a less expensive lifespan. There are higher costs when installing this type of system with design requirements based on the type of wiring used. There is also the need for ‘battery room’ to house the cells and charge circuits while some ventilation may be needed. A potential drop in lighting levels furthest from the battery unit can be an issue.
Servicing and Testing of your Emergency Lighting System
Whatever configuration of light and battery your company chooses, it is important to also have a schedule in place for servicing and testing your emergency fire lighting system. Manual testing may involve the switching on of every emergency light to ensure they are working and can take more time. But if the lights work from a single point, then this is what will be tested, meaning the time involved is shorter.
All servicing and testing need to comply with the relevant British Standards, and this also means getting the right company to conduct the checks.