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Make the Light SWITCH

Emergency lighting can be a lifeline for people trying to find their way out of a building if mains lighting fails, and this is particularly important in the event of a fire. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which brings all aspects of fire safety under one roof, recommends that the emergency lighting used is covered by the BSI Kite mark scheme. So how can you be sure your emergency lighting is compliant? Eaton’s Graham White outlines eight key considerations

If you have five or more employees, you are required by law, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, to carry out a fire safety risk assessment and must keep a written record of the assessment. This legislation exists to ensure that the correct emergency lighting is installed to cover any identifiable risks and that it will correctly operate in the event of a failure of the mains lighting supply. BS5266 is the code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises, which provides information on the correct emergency lighting for the safety of people. Additionally, the BS5266 code, along with the BSEN1838 code, provides specifiers with information regarding areas that need emergency lighting such as: the minimum levels of illumination, duration, maximum brightness to prevent glare, and any points of emphasis which require particular consideration. Failure to comply with these stipulations not only puts lives at risk and raises the possibility of prosecution, but can also invalidate insurance policies.

Given that emergency lighting will never be used on an everyday basis, it can be tempting to opt for cheaper luminaires. These are often supplied from distant sources and will pass through numerous intermediaries before installation. This can lead to confusion over the precise specifications and the claims made by manufacturers and sellers, which may not be independently verified. Buying cheaply may also turn out to be a false economy since lower-quality components can shorten the lifespan of batteries and lamps; they may also have inferior optics, resulting in an increased number of fittings being required to meet the minimum emergency lighting levels. As this is a life safety product you do need to consider whether a cheaper option might be more vulnerable to failure.

The most reliable way to ensure your emergency lighting is fit for purpose is to buy products approved by third-party certification schemes such as BSI Kitemarking and the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL) registration. The BSI governs the implementation of strict European standards on the design and manufacture of emergency luminaires under regulations including EN60598-1 and EN60598-2-22.

Application_3Meanwhile, the manufacturers’ trade organisation ICEL provides a product auditing and approval process. If ICEL approved luminaires are installed at the correct location, according to the recommendations of BS5266, using verified spacing data, the emergency lighting system will meet the minimum emergency lighting levels for the safety of people. However, this may need enhancement if specific risks are identified during the risk assessment. Upon meeting these conditions, the installation would then be considered sufficiently safe to protect users of the building and reduce the likelihood of any legal action relating to non-compliance with the Regulatory Reform Order.

Buying high-quality and industry-approved emergency lighting may initially seem more costly, but consider the bigger picture. For example, good quality products may have a higher output and better spacing performance meaning fewer units are needed to achieve the required level of illumination, which may not only reduce the outlay on products but also the installation cost. It is also worth bearing in mind the total cost of ownership (TCO) as long-term energy costs may be reduced. Additionally, it’s worth considering LED-based emergency luminaires. They use less power, therefore reduce running costs and require less maintenance. LED-based emergency luminaires have a working life often greater than 50,000 hours, which is up to 10 times longer than a conventional fluorescent lamp. Furthermore, the latest generation incorporate optic lenses to direct light into a specific pattern. This ensures the light is correctly distributed to maximise the coverage for emergency lighting from the luminaire, which may be needed to cover a larger open area or a specific distribution to maximise the spacing along an escape route.

The positioning of emergency lighting is crucial. Some of the key locations where emergency luminaires should be installed are along escape routes, at every change in direction, adjacent to any step or trip hazard, over every flight of stairs so that each tread receives direct light, close to firefighting equipment, call points and first aid points, outside every final exit to a place of safety or any other location identified by the risk assessment.

Under the regulations, a minimum luminance of 1 lux is required on the centre line of an escape route with a uniformity of at least 40:1. In open areas however, a minimum of 0.5 lux is required. To achieve these minimum levels, refer to the spacing tables that should be provided by your chosen manufacturer.

Higher levels of luminance will also be required for areas identified as having a higher risk. Examples of these areas are described within the BS5266 guidance, along with the recommended higher lux level values.

About Sarah OBeirne


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