Emergency Lighting2021-10-11T08:05:19+00:00

Emergency Lighting…

The BSi’s ‘A Guide to Emergency Lighting’ refers to BS EN 1838 (‘Lighting applications. Emergency lighting’) and the two main types of emergency lighting: ’emergency escape lighting’ and ‘standby lighting’.

‘Standby lighting’ enables normal activities to continue in the event of failure of the normal supply.

‘Emergency escape lighting’ enables safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply and therefore forms part of a building’s fire protection.  It is divided into three subcategories: ‘escape route lighting’, ‘open area lighting’ and ‘high risk task area lighting’.

A plan is devised during the design phase, to identify the areas requiring escape lighting and in addition, decisions are made on the types of power supply, operation, facilities and duration.

British Standards

BS EN 50172 (‘Emergency escape lighting systems’)/ BS 5266-8 state that all emergency lighting systems must be tested monthly.  Typically, this is a simulation of a mains power failure on the lighting circuit, forcing the emergency lighting system to operate via the battery supply (known as the ‘flick test’).

Testing forms part of the maintenance process, although consumable items, such as replacement lamps, should be provided for immediate use.


Duration is referenced in BS 5266-1 (‘Code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises’).  The minimum duration of an emergency escape lighting system is one hour.  However, there are many factors which will determine the duration required.  They include the evacuation time, whether the premises are immediately evacuated, size and complexity.

BS 5266-1 also requires written declarations of compliance to be available on site for inspection.  A completion certificate should be supplied by the installer, as well as system logbooks, commissioning and testing forms and instructions.