The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Emergency Escape Lighting – Part 172

October 17, 2022 11:40 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 171, LWF looked at the level of illumination required from emergency escape lighting, along the escape route. In part 172, we consider the necessary checks on emergency escape lighting systems and how test facilities should be incorporated into the emergency escape lighting system design.

Checks on emergency escape lighting systems can prove time consuming and problematic unless test facilities are incorporated into the original design and installation. A central battery system can offer an advantage in that the mains supply can be isolated. This allows the central battery to be tested and after, each luminaire can be checked visually to ensure each lamp is lit and to check diffusers are clean.

It is important that an emergency escape lighting scheme always include simple test facilities. The most basic form of test facility uses a keyswitch to isolate the electricity supply to a group of self-contained luminaires. A timer may also be fitted to ensure the supply is restored after a set period of time.

More advanced test facilities, such as the use of an infra-red remote control to put a luminaire into test mode can be obtained, as well as testing facilities which run completely automatically.

BS EN 50172:2004, BS 5266-8:2004 is a dual-numbered standard setting out the requirements for emergency lighting in buildings that are open to the public, it covers office and multi-storey buildings. It gives recommendations for an inspection routine and covers testing of emergency lighting systems on a daily, monthly and annual basis.

Daily inspection of emergency lighting: Each day the control equipment of central battery systems or generators should be checked to ensure they indicate normal operation. The most common way of achieving this is to ensure a fault indicator or repeater is located in an area of the building usually occupied, so a visual check can easily be made.

Monthly inspection of emergency lighting: A mains failure should be simulated so that the luminaires and illuminated exit signs can be checked to ensure they are fully operational. Any generators should also be checked, in accordance with the guidance in ISO 8528-12.

Annual inspection of emergency lighting: All luminares and illuminated exit signs should be tested for their full rated duration annually. All generators should be tested as per the guidance in ISO 8528-12.

In part 173 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the requirements for testing and maintenance of emergency escape lighting systems. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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