The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Emergency Lighting – Part 175

March 18, 2024 11:44 am

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 174, LWF talked about fire alarm design for tall buildings. In part 175, we begin to discuss emergency lighting, particularly in relation to escape routes and essential escape from a building on fire.

To ensure the safe evacuation of building occupants in case of a fire, it is important that all escape routes be adequately lit. Each and every area that is a part of the building’s normal circulation route should be properly illuminated at all material times. This is necessary, in any case, so that people can see where they are going under normal circumstances. In a fire situation, it becomes even more important.

Emergency lighting; which may also be known as escape lighting, safety lighting and standby lighting depending upon the intended purpose; is provided to ensure that if the main lighting system fails, there is a source of illumination to allow people to either evacuate the building safely or to remain in place if that is appropriate until the main lighting returns.

While both fire alarm systems and emergency lighting systems are systems for the safety of building occupants, they differ in an important way. The owner of a building with a fire alarm will hope that the fire alarm is never sounded, because for it to do so means there is a fire which is potentially catastrophic. The owner of a building with emergency lighting will be pleased to have the backup in place as cuts to power for main lighting are almost commonplace and while not a cause for significant alarm, they can put people in danger when working or moving about.

An emergency lighting system is likely to be put to use more regularly than a fire alarm system, as a loss of power is not only due to a fire on the premises, but can occur for a variety of reasons.

It should be noted that while some circulation areas may be windowed and therefore lit passably well during day light hours that if there are any members of staff in the building during hours of darkness (which in the UK and in Winter can be quite early in the afternoon), emergency lighting will be a necessity.

In part 176 of LWF’s series on fire engineering we will continue to discuss emergency lighting. 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 since 1986 to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

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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