Emergency lighting is a vital and common element in any building construction. It also provides essential protection to personnel and building occupants when there is a threat of fires or injuries due to defective service equipment, wiring, or similar reasons. Buildings and facilities must be regularly inspected and tested to ensure compliance with emergency lighting testing regulations. This will ensure that emergency lighting works as designed and is not vulnerable to short-circuit or fire accidents.
There are two main objectives of emergency lighting testing: protecting life and preventing loss of life. General information on emergency lighting testing is available from the Canadian Society of Fire Engineers and British Standard EN 5000. The most basic duty of the testing facility is on the property of the occupier/owner of the building. In this capacity, the testing facility is responsible for checking all emergency lighting systems and for conducting routine maintenance checks on emergency lighting appliances. Monthly emergency lighting testing (for central and emergency backup systems only)
There are many different types of emergency lighting requirements. For a commercial or office building, the most common requirement is for an emergency exit system with a clear path to the exit; this emergency lighting must be visible throughout the day and all night. Compliance with this standard requires that emergency lighting, including emergency exit, be visible from the exterior of the building. There are other requirements for offices and commercial premises such as emergency lighting at reception and emergency lighting along with doorways and hallways.
In offices and commercial premises, the most important requirement is for compliance with the Standard EN 508: Safe Work Practice for the Installation of Self-Contained Emergency Lighting (SCEN). This requirement requires that the central battery pack shall be installed per the manufacturer’s instructions and that the duration of each charge should not exceed three hours. For an office or commercial premise, the longest duration of charge is three hours. The purpose of the requirement is to provide businesses and offices with an extra level of safety for employees when emergency lighting is required.
Installation and Testing
All offices and commercial establishments are required to install emergency lighting. An inspection of the location of the emergency lighting system and its connection points is a primary part of the procedures during the installation process. Per British Standard EN 508, the installation of the central battery pack shall be located at least one meter from the point of operation. This distance shall be followed for a maximum of five years. There are times when the distance is increased from six meters to ten meters.
For premises that are not located near the emergency source, the installation procedure shall also involve two steps. The first step involves checking the minimum duration for which the lighting system can operate during power outages and darkness. This test shall be conducted using a remote control. Once this is done, the second step in the process will involve checking the duration for which the lights can operate even if there are no power cuts. If the test results in the minimum duration being achieved, the system shall be left in its place and not replaced.
Lighting systems shall be left in their original position with all controls intact and in a normal working condition. They shall also be attached to the ceiling in a manner that they cannot be pulled up or pushed by anybody. If they are attached to the ceiling, the inspectors will need to inspect any loose connections. In any case, where the installation is not completed correctly or is found to be incomplete, it is recommended that the equipment is inspected by authorized personnel for any defects.
It is mandatory to test any high-risk task area lighting system that has been installed in any building to check its functionality under emergency lighting conditions. The process of emergency lighting testing shall start once the building’s electrical power has been restored. The inspectors shall inspect all areas of the facility that require illumination. These places include emergency egress routes, emergency stairwells, emergency exits, emergency lighting control units, emergency lighting fixtures and fittings, emergency exit signs, emergency lighting sensors and lighting controls. All these parts of the facility shall be tested one at a time with a maximum period of three hours in each section.