Emergency Lighting Inspection

Is Emergency Lighting a legal requirement? And other Emergency lighting related questions.

Legislative requirements for emergency lighting:

  • New Buildings and major refurbishments need to be safe and comply to relevant National and local Building regulations.
  • The safe use of all buildings. Systems also need to be appropriately designed for the activities being conducted, the structure of the premises and the types of occupants.

UK guides to compliance with these requirements refer users to BS 5266-1.
Guides for the responsible persons (users) on meeting fire safety legislation for all premises;

England and Wales.
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Application Guides are available on line at www.firesafetyguides.communities.gov.uk

Scotland
The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, (FSA) as amended, Application Guides are available on line at www.infoscotland.com

Northern Ireland
Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 No. 1254 (N.I.9).and the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

Who is responsible for the safety of the occupants of premises?
• Responsibility for complying with the Order rests with the ‘responsible person’. In a workplace, this is the employer and any other person who may have control of any part of the premises, e.g. the occupier or owner. In all other premises the person or people in control of the premises will be responsible.

How should the responsible person meet the requirements?
• The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment which must focus on the safety in case of fire of all ‘relevant persons’. It should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as disabled people, those who you know have special needs and young persons and must include consideration of any dangerous substance liable to be on the premises. Your fire risk assessment will help you identify risks that can be removed or reduced and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions you need to take.

What standards should be met?
If you decide that you need to install emergency escape lighting or to modify your existing system, any work should be carried out by a competent person in accordance with the appropriate standards. Further guidance is given in BS 5266-1 and BS 5266-8.

Who should assist the responsible to provide a suitable system?
• The responsible person must appoint one or more competent persons, depending on the size and use of your premises, to carry out any of the preventive and protective measures required by the Order.

Who is a competent person?
• A competent person is someone with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to be able to implement these measures properly.

How can the user demonstrate the system stays in good condition?
• You must ensure that the premises and any equipment provided in connection with firefighting, fire detection and warning, or emergency routes and exits are covered by a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained by a competent person in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

Does the management only need to consider fire safety risks?
• Fire safety is only one of many safety issues with which management must concern themselves to minimise the risk of injury or death to staff or the public. Unlike most of the other safety concerns, fire has the potential to injure or kill large numbers of people very quickly. This guidance is concerned only with fire safety but many of the measures discussed here will impact upon other safety issues, and vice versa.

It goes without saying that emergency lighting is a life saving system in any premises, but a major survey of emergency lighting installations has found that more than half of emergency light schemes ‘won’t work’ in incident.

One of the major problems appears to arise as a consequence of internal refurbishments with 56 per cent of businesses failing to keep their safety systems up to date following fit-outs when areas are reorganised, but the emergency lighting is not altered to suit those changes.

Another major factor is the lack of understanding from owners/managers etc of the inspection regime involved with keeping emergency lighting systems compliant.

Any change to a designated escape route requires a similar adjustment in the lighting of that route. Maintenance is also singled out as an issue. The survey suggests that building owners see emergency lighting as a fit-and-forget system, with over 50 per cent of the survey respondents reporting that customers seem to be more concerned with initial expenditure rather than the on-going cost of running and maintaining the system.

Aside from the obvious safety of your tenants, property owners have found themselves fined and even imprisoned due to a lack of compliant emergency lighting. Tata Steelworks in Wales was fined £200k when the lights in their factory failed during an accident in which 300 tonnes of molten metal was spilled injuring a number of employees. Worse still, the owner of a hotel on Blackpool’s promenade was imprisoned for 18 months when it was discovered that exit routes were blocked, smoke alarms were disabled and there was no emergency lighting system whatsoever.

So What Do You Need To Know To Ensure Your Emergency Lighting System Is Compliant?

A combination of different types of emergency lighting is likely to be needed in most buildings and a risk assessment should be carried out to identify the areas and locations which will require emergency lighting as well as the type of installations needed.

Anyone undertaking works on emergency lighting schemes should be in possession and have an understanding of the following standards:

  • BS 5266-1:2016 Code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises.
  • BS EN 60598-2-22 British and European standard for emergency luminaires.
  • BS 5499-10:2014 Guidance for the selection and use of safety signs and fire safety notices.
  • IS 3217:2014+A1:2017 Irish Stand for emergency lighting.

It’s also worth noting that the regulations governing emergency lighting are periodically updated and so many of the schemes we see have not been maintained in accordance to the latest requirements.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, for example, enact in UK law an EU Directive designed to harmonise signs across the EU. The directive was for all signs to be replaced by 24th December 1998 but we still regularly see non-compliant emergency signage installed in active schemes.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 became Law on the 1st of October 2006 providing a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises. This order replaced all previous laws in England and Wales meaning that many schemes installed prior to 2005 are likely to be non-compliant.

Similarly, the code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises (BS 5266) was originally published in 2008, but was later amended in 2011 and again in 2016. The assumption, therefore, is that it’s entirely possible for installations which have not been upgraded or reviewed since these periods to be non-compliant with current requirements.

Summary Of The Key Requirements

Whilst this is by no means an exhaustive list, we have summarised some of the key emergency lighting requirements below:

  • Emergency luminaires, exit signage and infill lighting must be carefully positioned to provide sufficient lighting to enable safe exit from a building in the event of failure of the normal mains supply.
  • Emergency exits and escape routes should be provided with signs. These should be illuminated to indicate unambiguously the route of escape to a point of safety.
  • Where direct sight of an emergency exit is not possible, an illuminated directional sign (or series of signs) should be provided to assist progression towards the emergency exit.
  • Every change of direction leading to an escape door needs to be illuminated.
  • An escape lighting luminaire should be sited near (normally considered to be within 2m measured horizontally) to:
    • each exit door
    • positions where it is necessary to emphasise potential danger (such as changes of level, flights of stairs and intersections of corridors)
    • first-aid equipment
    • fire alarm call points
    • fire extinguishers
    • fire alarm panels and
    • electrical distribution boards
  • In addition to the above mandatory points, infill luminaires may be required to achieve the correct emergency lighting levels.

Duration Of Battery Back-Up

The battery back-up of an emergency lighting system will depend on the use of the building and the evacuation strategy. Any building used as sleeping accommodation will require a minimum of three hours of battery back-up. This therefore includes hospitals, care homes, boarding schools and common areas of blocks of flats.

Maintenance Of Your System

It is essential that servicing and maintenance of emergency lighting systems is carried out at regular intervals to ensure that the system remains in a fully operational condition. This would normally be performed as part of the periodic testing routine, but for consumable items, such as replacement lamps, spares should be provided for immediate use.

It is advisable to have in place a service and maintenance contract with a competent person or company, not only for routine inspection, but also for emergency repairs and alterations.

Inspection & Testing of your System

Every emergency lighting system will need to have a suitable means for simulating failure of the normal mains supply for testing and maintenance purposes. This is normally achieved by the use of key switches operated by the user/owner of the scheme. We recommend short functional (on-off) tests on a monthly basis and a full duration test to the lighting system simulation on an annual basis by a competent person.

If you have any futrther questions relating to emergency lighting, please get in touch we would be happy to help.