Emergency Lighting – Introduction

In this blog post, we will be covering the basics of one of the most important aspects of the Health & Safety world, Emergency Lighting. 

We will include aspects such as; what is emergency lighting, if it is a legal requirement or not in your building and when you need to conduct an emergency lighting inspection. We have also included a list of all the places where you would need to have a light placed within your building.  Now, let’s get to the point.

What is an Emergency Lighting System?

An Emergency Lighting System is an array of battery-powered devices that illuminate when there is a loss of power within the building.

This works by directly connecting the lights to the power supply of the building, which in turn keeps the batteries charged within the unit allowing them to provide the light necessary for hours in case of a power outage.

Nowadays, most new buildings come with emergency lighting already installed during the construction phase; the design and type of equipment are specified by the architect accordingly to the current Building Regulations and any local authority requirements.

Is it a legal requirement?

Yes, under BS5266 ‘Code of Practice for Emergency Lighting’, it is a legal requirement for you to install and inspect an emergency lighting system  in any non-domestic building. Accordingly, the inspection will make sure that all the emergency lights are working as they should after a power loss in the building, this will show any exit routes in case any emergency event occurs.

What buildings need Emergency Lighting?

Every non-domestic building is required to have an emergency light system that operates automatically and give illumination of a sufficiently high level to enable all occupants to evacuate the premises safely.

However, what does we mean by non-domestic building? Essentially, non-domestic building are every buildings where public has access or where people are employed (i.e. offices and so on). Conversely, domestic and individual houses and flats if privately occupied, do not normally require an emergency lights system installed.

Where are Emergency Lights meant to be placed?

Emergency Lights should be placed to identify hazards in your building, as well as to show a clear exit route from anywhere in the building in case of emergency.  Being emergency events totally unpredictable, It represents good practice to remember that people could be anywhere in the building when power fails and/or in the event of needing to exit the building safely. Therefore, it is vital to carefully plan the emergency lights placement, respecting several criterions, such as maximum distance, common areas and escape routes.

We have listed the 14 main places where the instalment of emergency lights is mandatory. We could identify 4 main areas with specifics examples related: 

  • Walkways
  • Fire Call Points & Refuge Areas
  • Doors
  • High risk zones

When do I need an Emergency Lighting Inspection?

An Emergency Lighting Inspection should be carried out once per year, as per the legal requirement,  to ensure that the emergency lights system is working correctly. Furthermore,  regular testing by a professional on a monthly basis is highly suggested. The monthly testing does not count towards the inspection but should be taken as a precaution to the upkeep of the lights.


We hope this article has been helpful to you and we would like to suggest you that if you are interested in knowing more about electrical compliance and fire safety services please, do visit our blog for more insights.

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