The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Healthcare Premises – Emergency & Escape Lighting – Part 28

June 28, 2018 12:18 pm

In LWF’s blog series for healthcare professionals, the aim is to give information on best practice of fire safety in hospitals and other healthcare premises. In part 27 of this series on means of warning and escape in a fire situation, we looked at the additional care that should be taken in areas of intensive care and operating departments. In part 28, LWF talks about the emergency and escape lighting provided and the precautions which should be taken.


In order to protect the most essential electrical services, a hospital will divide its electrical distribution into two categories – essential and non-essential. The essential circuits are protected by a back-up generator which operates when mains electricity fails. The generator will become operational within 15 seconds of a mains failure.


In order for the essential services to be protected, the distribution boards must be housed separately from non-essential services. This may be in a separate location, or they may simply be in separate metal cabinets.  The circuits should also be segregated where possible, but where this isn’t possible, essential service cables must be wired in fire-resistant cabling.


Electrical distribution systems which serve life safety and fire-fighting applications must always be wired in fire-resistant cable, as per BS 8519:2010 – Selection and installation of fire-resistant power and control cable systems for life safety and fire-fighting applications. Code of practice. (


Circulation spaces in a hospital department should be subject to separate circuits from the adjacent rooms, so a power failure in one does not affect the other.


While such measures provide a level of protection to essential electrical services, it is possible for failures to happen, such as final circuit, distribution boards or phase failure. In addition, Electrical services supply and distribution (HTM 06-01) – Guidance on the design, installation and testing of all fixed wiring and integral electrical equipment used for electrical services states a recommendation that emergency escape lighting should be operational within half a second of the normal electricity/lighting service interruption.


As already intimated, a standard generator will not be able to react that quickly, requiring instead a central battery or self-contained batteries solely for emergency escape lighting purpose in order to function.


Emergency escape lighting must have a minimum duration of three hours and should incorporate fully automatic network testing facilities.


Further guidance on emergency escape lighting can be found in the following documents:


BS 5266-1:2016 – Emergency lighting. Code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises


Electrical services supply and distribution (HTM 06-01) – Guidance on the design, installation and testing of all fixed wiring and integral electrical equipment used for electrical services


LG02 Lighting Guide 02: Hospitals & Health Care Buildings – LG2


In part 29 of this series, LWF will look at means of escape from plant areas. 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.


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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