emergency lighting




There are several different government guides for fire risk assessment in various types of premises, such as factories and warehouses, offices and shops, residential care premises etc. The guides are very similar but each one is 'adjusted' to suit the situation e.g. for premises with sleeping accommodation such as hotels, the 'rules' for travel distances, means of escape and fire alarms etc is of a higher standard than for offices and shops. The following text is taken from HM government guide 'fire safety risk assessment, factories and warehouses.'


"Where any escape routes are internal and without windows, or your premises are used during periods of darkness, including early darkness on winter days, then some form of back-up to the normal escape route lighting (emergency escape lighting) is likely to be required. In simple premises, e.g. small single storey open plan factories or warehouses with small numbers of staff where the escape routes are straightforward, borrowed lighting, e.g. from street lamps where they illuminate escape routes, may be acceptable. Where borrowed lighting is not available, suitably placed torches may be acceptable. In larger, more complex premises it is likely that a more comprehensive system of electrical automatic emergency escape lighting will be needed to illuminate all the escape routes."


In plain English, it must be possible to be able to escape from a building in case of fire if the normal lighting fails. Often the best way to check if there is sufficient light is to simulate a lighting circuit failure (at night) and check if there is enough light to find exit routes, operate the fire alarm, read the instructions on a fire extinguisher etc.


It is also important to remember that it must also be possible to see and use escape routes that may not normally be illuminated, such as an external escape route at the back of a factory, or an internal corridor in a multi-occupied building. In such cases, it is not unusual to find emergency lighting installed, but no conventional lighting!


It may also be possible to install luminescent way finding systems, which absorb light energy from the normal light source, and then glow if the lights fail, or at night. These have the advantage that there is little or no maintenance required and there are no batteries or bulbs to wear out.


Emergency lights can be purchased on-line from www.mfs-fire-extinguishers.co.uk


Contact us if you need help or advice about emergency lighting, details below.



In an emergency situation such as a fire it is vitally important to be able to get away from danger as quickly as possible, which invariably means being able to see. It follows therefore that if we are reliant upon either daylight or artificial light that if that light disappears quickly, the speed at which we can move reduces dramatically. Although the human eye is extremely adaptable and will rapidly compensate for low light conditions, if there is no light at all we are in danger of injury simply by walking into objects or falling downstairs etc. It is imperative therefore that when the average person needs to get out of a building they can see to do so.


Where there is no borrowed light, such as from street lights etc, we must ensure that some form of guaranteed light is available. This is normally achieved by the installation of emergency lighting or a luminescent way-finding system. It is puzzling therefore why way-finding systems are installed at low level but emergency lighting is installed on the ceiling. in a fire situation, smoke rises upwards therefore one of the first things to be obscured is the lights, whether that be conventional or emergency lighting. It would make much more sense to install emergency lights at low-level where they would not be obscured as quickly and would assist people crawling underneath smoke.


Unfortunately British Standards suggest that emergency and escape lighting is installed at high level, which in most situations would is often a waste of time when smoke is involved. In many cases therefore it would make more sense to install emergency lighting (or photoluminescent way-finding materials) at low level.





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