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There is no dispute that emergency lighting is required to help people escape safely and quickly from a building. Using signs to show the escape route(s) is an essential part of emergency lighting, because those signs must be visible during a mains failure.

In addition to providing for escape, emergency lighting should illuminate any fire equipment, such as portable extinguishers and manual call points, either on the escape route or elsewhere, and permit safely operations such as first aid and fire fighting.

An Emergency Lighting System is essential:

  • To show clearly the escape routes from a building.
  • To allow safe movement (to exits) moving at walking pace without stumbling.
  • To help prevent panic in an emergency and during evacuation.
  • To show the location of and identify fire equipment, for example fire extinguishers and manual call points.
  • To permit safety operations such as administering first aid.

In the UK, the Fire Safety ligislation requires emergency lighting to be provided in the following premises:

- Offices and shops

- Community halls

- Schools

- Hotels and hostels

- Common areas in houses in multiple occupation

- Premises that provide care

- Pubs, clubs and restaurants

- Tents and marquees

- Factories and warehouses

  • If artificial lighting is installed, emergency lighting is likely to be required:

    - on escape routes

    - in open areas larger than 60m2 (or smaller if risk assessed)

    - to show exit signs

  • 1 hour minimum duration (autonamy) for emergency lighting:

    - must fully recharge within 24 hours before reoccupation

    - premises must be evacuated immediately

  • 3 hour duration of emergency lighting required for:

    - sleeping risk (hotels)

    - licensed premises and places of entertainment

    - premises required early reoccupation (schools, hospitals)

Because of the two types being allowed, in the UK, 3 hour duration emergency lighting is almost exlusively used, to avoid confusion and multiple product types.