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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Emergency Escape Lighting – Part 173

October 24, 2022 11:31 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 172, LWF considered the necessary checks on emergency escape lighting systems and how test facilities should be incorporated into the emergency escape lighting system design. In part 173, we continue to look at what should be undertaken annually to ensure the proper maintenance of an emergency escape lighting system (daily and monthly inspections having been detailed in part 172 of this series).

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. The standard gives recommendations for an inspection routine and covers testing of emergency lighting systems on a daily, monthly and annual basis.

On an annual basis, full duration discharge testing should be undertaken at a time and in a manner that minimises potential risk to building occupants. This should be carried out when the premises can safely be without emergency escape lighting for 24 hours, which is the recharge time of the batteries. The only truly safe time to test emergency escape lighting in this manner is when the building will be without occupancy for the duration of the testing and recharge cycle.

Full duration discharge testing to all luminaires isn’t always possible, some buildings are continuously occupied. Where self-contained luminaires are in place, tests can still be run by testing alternative luminaires on the occasion of each discharge test, so only 50% of the lighting is out of action for 24 hours and the remainder continue to function.

In the case of central battery systems in fully-occupied buildings, the stationary cells used can be discharged to two-thirds capacity and an accurate evaluation of final capacity can be made using suppliers data.

When a new emergency escape lighting system is installed in a building, the manufacturer or installer will provide information on the frequency and method of testing which will adhere to the requirements of BS EN 50172:2004, BS 5266-8:2004 and take into account the particular needs of the individual installation.

In part 174 of this series, LWF will begin to look at the use of Emergency Wayfinding 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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