Everyone knows just how important a fire alarm system is, but what about the elements that go into one which are often overlooked? You might be thinking the sounders, beacons and detectors are the main components of a fire alarm system, however, emergency lighting plays a massive part as well.
Everyone knows just how important a fire alarm system is, but what about the elements that go into one which are often overlooked?
You might be thinking the sounders, beacons and detectors are the main components of a fire alarm system, however, emergency lighting plays a massive part as well. Keeping your emergency lights functioning properly is crucial; we’ve all seen many flickering exits signs or broken lights, which is simply not acceptable when you put their importance into perspective.
A fully functioning fire alarm system will include exit lights on all exit doors and emergency lights to cover the escape routes of a building.
So, why is emergency lighting so important? Let's get into it…
To understand the importance of outdoor lighting, we first must understand the purpose of it. In public buildings, in the event of a power outage or failure, all the lights will go off and everyone in the building will be plunged into darkness. However, there’s a glimmering light of hope (see what I did there?), in the shape of emergency lighting. The darkness won’t last for long, as emergency lights, powered by batteries will come on and help guide building users to safety. Without them, building users would have to navigate in the dark, this is bad enough but when you add in the increasing threat of a fire in the building, they won’t have much time to make it to an exit and might even get stuck at a dead end.
Building users will also most likely get panicked after hearing a fire alarm sound, so navigating in the darkness will become even harder. People may get disorientated or confused, emergency lighting provides them with direction, making sure they evacuate safely and potentially saving their lives.
Bringing us to the most obvious reason why emergency lighting is important – safety.
A lot less important than the safety of your employees, customers and visitors, nevertheless still something to consider. It’s actually illegal not to have emergency lighting in your public building. There are a lot more points in the full standard, but building owners must make sure that the lighting system comes with a logbook, installers’ guarantee, and manufacturers’ guarantees for individual components. After the guarantees expire, regular maintenance must be carried out to make sure all the lighting is working correctly. The standard also states that stairs, doors, changes in elevation, access to the outside, corridor intersections, fire fighting equipment, escape equipment for disabled people and call point all require illuminations within 2 metres.
If your building has inadequate or no emergency lighting and a fire breaks out, it will make it extremely difficult for the fire department to enter your building, find anyone who hasn’t been able to get out and fight the fire. Emergency lights mean that the fire department can move around a lot easier in your building – unlike your employees, they’ve probably never been in your building before, so it’s even harder for them to navigate. You’re going to want to make it as easy as possible for them so that the risk of damage and injuries are decreased.
Whilst it’s important to actually have emergency lighting in your building, it’s also of equal importance to make sure it works correctly. Emergency lighting that isn’t working properly decreases the effectiveness of it. This is why it’s essential to carry out emergency lighting testing regularly. Usually, emergency lights are tested monthly, making sure they illuminate, are free from damage and aren’t dirty. These tests are carried out using emergency lighting test kits. Fire alarm services can also be provided, this is when the lighting is tested for the full duration of how long it’s meant to stay on for, this is around 3 hours. If the lighting does not last as long as it’s supposed to, it fails the test. Tests are done regularly to ensure the lighting is in proper working order and should an emergency arise, building users will be able to evacuate in the safest way possible.
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