The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Emergency Lighting – Part 1

December 15, 2016 11:48 am

In this blog series for architects and others involved in building planning, we are covering many aspects of Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment. In today’s blog, we’re looking at Emergency Lighting. Emergency Lighting is not lighting that allows the building’s operations to continue as normal, but rather is lighting provided to ensure that if there is a failure of the building’s normal lighting, that safe escape is possible.


While emergency lighting is a subject independent of fire safety, this blog series will be reviewing it with the principles of fire engineering at its core.


You might be forgiven for thinking that installation of emergency lighting is somehow less important than the installation of a fire alarm system, but in fact, the Building Regulations for England and Wales put significant emphasis on emergency lighting. The recommendation means that all commercial buildings over 60m2 should have an emergency lighting installation, with a few exceptions such as storage facilities, some car parks etc. which fall into purpose groups 6 or 7 within the Building Regulations Approved Document B.


It might seem unusual that this is the case, because a fire alarm alerts building occupants to fire danger within the premises, whereas emergency lighting simply happens if there is a power failure, but it is actually for precisely this reason that emergency lighting systems are considered more essential. While a building owner may hope that a fire never happens in his premises (and they may be right) the likelihood of there never being any kind of power failure is actually very low, and if the building were to suddenly be dark, this could be very dangerous indeed for any persons inside attempting to move around.


Regular maintenance of an emergency lighting system is important to ensure that the system as a whole and each light is serviced so that they are fit for purpose when the need arises.


We have established now that the installation of emergency lighting is important, but how it is installed and – crucially – where it is sited must be given appropriate consideration.


The design of such a system must be made before installation to encompass and identify specific escape routes from the building to a place of outside safety. Those parties who should have a professional input include the Fire Engineer, Architect, building owner and also the Fire Officer and Building Control Officer who must give the relevant approvals. In addition, the building’s insurers may have requirements they wish to impose before they will provide insurance for the premises.


In our next blog on Emergency Lighting, we will be looking at how that team of professionals will decide where to site lighting within the building. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.


Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 020 8668 8663.


Share this post