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A short guide to Emergency Lighting in 2024

LESH | Emergency lighting

What are emergency lights?

During an emergency such as a fire or power cut, emergency lighting illuminates areas that lead occupants to the nearest fire exit. Emergency lights should have sufficient battery power to last between 1 and 3 hours depending on expected evacuation times – for example, hotels and hospitals will require more time to evacuate so must be a 3 hour illumination.

This window of illumination should give occupants enough time to escape the building safely.

Are emergency lights all the same?

Generally, there are four different types of emergency lighting:

·        Escape route lighting – highlight the routes and obstacles

·        Open area emergency lighting – anti panic for large areas

·        High-risk task area lighting – for around dangerous machinery / areas

·        Standby lighting – general ambient lighting (not a legal requirement)


Where should emergency lighting be installed?

The correct positioning of emergency lighting is can be critical in the event of a fire. Lighting must be positioned in areas to guide occupants to a place of safety, avoiding obstacles along the way such as:

  • Stairwells

  • Places where the floor level changes

  • Toilet areas (greater than 8m2)

  • Intersections in corridors

  • Changes in the direction of the escape route

Your fire risk assessment will advise areas that need lighting.

Do I need to test emergency lighting?

Daily: A quick visual inspection of the green light (power supply indicator) to ensure the system is operational (only applies to central battery systems).

Monthly: BS EN 50172 / BS 5266-8 dictate that organisations must test all emergency lighting systems monthly. This can be achieved by a quick flick test – using your emergency lighting keys, flick the power to battery to check they illuminate, and back again.

Annually: Annual tests need to check that lights remain on for the test duration recommended by the relevant British Standard. All lights need to stay illuminated until the end of the test period.

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