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A guide to emergency lights

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emergency light

A guide to emergency lights

Emergency lighting Systems ensure people can escape your building; operate manual call points and use firefighting devices. They also prevent people from panicking or having accidents caused by being in the dark.

What’s the British Standard for emergency lighting?

BS 5266-1:2011 Emergency lighting – Part 1: Code of practice for the emergency escape lighting of premises

BS 5266-1: 2011 outlines minimum safety standards for the design of, installation of and wiring of, emergency lighting systems.

Make sure that choose an engineer who will adhere to this standard – opt for a company that is BAFE approved, SIRA registered and UKAS certified.

Maintained vs. non-maintained

Maintained emergency lights – stays lit continuously

Non-maintained emergency lights – only come on when there’s a power failure

Maintained emergency lights can double up with the main source of lighting to further illuminate areas in non-emergency situations. Then, if the mains fail they will stay lit so only some of the lighting is lost. They tend to be the best option in public spaces where lots of light is needed.

Non-maintained emergency lighting only comes on if there’s a power failure, so they tend to be the cheaper option.

Mounting emergency lights

Mount emergency lights in the incorrect position and they won’t light the right area.

Depending on the area you want to illuminate, you can opt for a ceiling mounted or wall mounted light.

The worst thing you can do is buy a ceiling mounted light and fix it on a wall or over a doorway. This is because the light will be cast forward, leaving the wall you were trying to illuminate in shadow.

Positioning emergency lights

Emergency lights should be spaced closely enough together to illuminate all areas of your building.

To be sure, ensure you place them near areas you want to draw attention to or illuminate.

This includes:

  • Emergency exit signs
  • Changes of level
  • Stairways
  • Intersections
  • Doorways
  • Changes of direction
  • Near firefighting tools
  • Near manual call points


To ensure your emergency lighting systems continue to function correctly, you should conduct a series of daily, monthly and yearly checks:

Daily – Check the indicator is lit.

Monthly – Switch the light into emergency mode

Yearly – Put the light into emergency mode and leave it burning for its full duration

Don’t forget to document all checks and maintenance work carried out in your log book
photo credit: zen via photopin cc

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