Emergency Lighting & Signage

Do You Need Emergency Lighting?

Lexicon Fire Systems provide emergency light testing certificates nationwide. Emergency lighting is lighting for an emergency situation when the main power supply is cut and normal electrical illumination fails. The loss of mains electricity could be the result of a fire or a power cut. Without emergency lighting this could lead to sudden darkness and possible danger to occupants, either through physical danger or panic.

Emergency lighting

Emergency lighting is normally required to operate fully automatically and give illumination of a sufficiently high level to enable all occupants to evacuate the premises safely. Valid emergency light testing certificates are required in all commercial buildings.  Most new buildings have emergency lighting installed during construction; the design and type of equipment being specified by the architect in accordance with current Building Regulations and any local authority requirements.

The first stage of installing emergency escape lighting is consultation and design. The designer, responsible person and fire risk assessor should meet and decide where the escape lighting is required and mark up a plan showing the areas to be covered, the type (power supply), mode of operation, facilities and duration of emergency lighting to be provided in an emergency.

There are two main types of emergency lighting: Emergency escape lighting and standby lighting.

Emergency escape lighting is defined as “that part of emergency lighting that is provided to enable safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply”. Standby lighting is defined as “that part of the emergency lighting provided to enable normal activities to continue in the event of failure of the normal mains supply”.

Fire Safety Signs

Fire safety signs are designed to warn staff and visitors of any fire hazards, to provide instruction or to give safety information. It is vital to provide clear and concise instructions about the actions to take in the case of a fire. We offer a wide range of door signs, extinguisher signs, exit signs and glow in the dark placards for high visibility in low-light environments.

Fire escape signs are provided to guide you from wherever you are in a building, via a place of relative safety (the escape route) to the place of ultimate safety (the assembly area).

Fire escape signs are not needed on the main route into or out of a building (the one used by people for normal arrival and exit), but alternative escape routes and complicated escape routes do need to be signed. It must not be assumed that everyone will know all safe routes through the building. Similarly, it must not be assumed that, once outside the building via a final exit, people will know how to get to the assembly area, so signs directing to the assembly area will be needed as well. Fire escape signs are green and white – safe condition. They must comprise a pictogram, an arrow, and possibly words. A sign with just an arrow, or just words, or an arrow and words is not sufficient. There must be a pictogram including the “rapidly walking man”. Signs to British Standard 5499: part 4:2000 have the man passing through a door. Another way to identify signs to BS5499 is that the text is in lower case apart from the first letter. Signs that are illuminated from behind or within (as in the case of an escape light with escape sign incorporated) will have a white figure entering a green door with a white surround. You may encounter signs to European Standard 92/58/EEC. These are identified by all upper case text, a man, a door and an arrow.

emergency light testing certificates

Emergency Escape lighting

There are three main aspects of emergency escape lighting: 1) escape route lighting; 2) open area / anti-panic area lighting; 3) high risk task area lighting.

Escape route lighting is the part of an emergency lighting system provided to enable the swift and safe evacuation of a building by illuminating its escape routes, such as corridors and stairways, and also the location of fire-fighting equipment, e.g. fire extinguishers and safety / security equipment such as keyboxes holding emergency keys to exit doors. As such, escape route lighting can be seen to be a fundamental requirement of fire safety provision in all non-domestic premises and public areas of HMOs, whatever their use or occupancy levels.

Large public buildings such as shopping malls, museums and exhibition halls, etc., attract significant numbers of visitors who will not be familiar with the layout of the premises. Panic may therefore ensue should emergency evacuation be triggered by the sounding of the fire alarm. Open area / anti-panic lighting is relevant in such situations to aid in the identification of escape routes and exits and the guidance of people towards them.

High risk task lighting is a specific type of emergency lighting provided to ensure the safety of people involved in a potentially dangerous process or situation. It must be sufficient to enable the requisite shut-down procedures to be implemented. This type of lighting will only apply across a limited range of scenarios.

The above distinctions serve to emphasise the role of emergency escape lighting in fire safety and how it is adapted and applied, on a case by case basis, according to the specific use and occupancy levels of a particular building and / or areas within it.

What are emergency lighting luminaires?

There are two main types of luminaire, the relevant standard for which is BS EN 60598-2-22: self-contained and centrally supplied.

The self-contained luminaire, as it name suggests, contains all the essential components (i.e. battery, charger, control unit, lamp, diffuser and any test or monitoring facility) for it to function as an independent emergency light. As noted in the Fire Protection Association (FPA) Emergency Lighting Handbook (2012), this is the most common form of emergency lighting and is usually designed to be fitted to a wall or ceiling to illuminate a certain area or building feature. A typical example is the surface-mounted, rectangular bulkhead luminaire, although a wide range of self-contained luminaires is available including square, round and recessed / inset models.

Centrally supplied luminaires, also known as ‘slaves’ because they cannot function independently, are defined by BS EN 60598-2-22 as follows: “luminaire for maintained or non-maintained operation which is energized from a central emergency power system that is not contained within the luminaire”. Slave fittings contain the lamp and some of the control gear but the charger, battery and often the changeover device are located remotely and provide the supply to a number of luminaires. Again, the luminaires themselves come in a range of shapes and styles.