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Article Date: 30th July 2018

TheisCraft Emergency Lighting Five Point Guide

Emergency Lighting - Lighting Guide - Lighting System - Fire Safety

TheisCraft - Richard Merchant, commercial director at TheisCraft

Exit strategy

Richard Merchant, commercial director at TheisCraft, explains the five main points that facilities managers must consider when configuring an emergency lighting system.

Emergency lighting gives occupants a way of evacuating a building safely in the event of a fire and the part it plays in a comprehensive life safety system should never be ignored or underestimated. There are a number of factors facilities managers need to think about when implementing this type of system and here are the five most important considerations:

• Understand the risk

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires a designated ‘responsible person’ within an organisation to carry out assessments to identify, manage and reduce risk, and put appropriate measures in place. This includes making sure that the emergency lighting system is fit for purpose and is regularly tested and maintained.

It is important to remember that there is no ‘one size fits all’ way of assessing the risk within a building, as they are all built differently and have specific uses. For instance, a hospital or home for the elderly will have different fire safety needs than an office.

• Obey the rules

Legislation should be adhered to in order to identify a building’s specific emergency lighting requirements. The Workplace Directive 89/654 states that signs, in accordance with national regulation, must indicate specific routes and exits. Additionally, The Construction Products Directive 89/106/EEC says that the purpose of an emergency lighting installation is to ensure that lighting is provided promptly, automatically and for a suitable time in a specific area when normal power supply to the lighting fails.

This is all encapsulated in BS 5266-1, Code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises. It provides information on the correct lighting provision, minimum levels of illumination, duration of operation and the maximum brightness levels needed to prevent glare. Emergency lighting systems should always be designed, installed, commissioned and maintained systems in accordance with this standard.

• Choose wisely

Modern emergency lighting systems offer a level of intelligence that combines high levels of reliability, energy efficiency and ease of use.

Good quality products will have a higher output and better spacing performance, meaning fewer units are needed to achieve the required level of illumination. This may not only reduce the outlay on products but also the installation cost, as well as energy expenditure over the long-term. Facilities managers should seek to verify what supporting evidence is available from an emergency lighting manufacturer to confirm their solution is compliant with building, legal, safety and quality standards, and any other relevant regulations.

When it comes to product selection, light emitting diode (LED) luminaires offer significant additional benefits in terms of size, lifetime and energy efficiency. LED luminaires offer some impressive features and 3W fittings are available that run at 700mA and come in standard format three hour duration.

• Achieve the right lux levels

Achieving the correct lux level is a must and BS 5266-1 recommends a minimum of 1 lux in escape routes and 0.5 lux in open areas.

Emergency lighting should also be positioned in such a way to ensure that people are free from disability glare, which can prevent obstructions or signs from being properly seen. There are also other areas identified in BS 5266-1 part 10 where higher levels of illumination are required. These include kitchens, first aid rooms, treatment rooms, plant rooms, reception areas and crash bars at exit doors.

Once again it is important to remember that these figures represent the minimum requirements, so in certain circumstances there may be a need for higher lux levels. This is something that should also be considered during the risk assessment.

• Pass the test

In order to comply with BS 5266-1, all emergency lighting systems must undergo a short duration test on a monthly basis and an additional annual test for the full rated duration of the emergency lights. A full record sheet needs to be maintained for each emergency luminaire and entered into a logbook, which must be available for inspection by the authorities at any time. Failure to provide full test records can result in legal action and closure of a building, and if the system is defective, the insurance policy for a building may be invalid.

Modern systems utilise the digital addressable lighting interface (DALI) protocol, so that full remote operation and self-test is possible. DALI assigns an address to each luminaire, allowing management of each individual device, and this can be as simple as a single luminaire containing a driver and a sensor. Scheduling of monthly self-tests and annual duration tests can be set up via the internet, with all test results automatically logged.

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