What is Emergency escape Lighting
There are three main aspects of emergency escape lighting: 1) escape route lighting; 2) open area / anti-panic area lighting; 3) high risk task area lighting.
- Escape route lighting is the part of an emergency lighting system provided to enable the swift and safe evacuation of a building by illuminating its escape routes, such as corridors and stairways, and also the location of fire-fighting equipment, e.g. fire extinguishers and safety / security equipment such as keyboxes holding emergency keys to exit doors. As such, escape route lighting can be seen to be a fundamental requirement of fire safety provision in all non-domestic premises and public areas of HMOs, whatever their use or occupancy levels.
- Large public buildings such as shopping malls, museums and exhibition halls, etc., attract significant numbers of visitors who will not be familiar with the layout of the premises. Panic may therefore ensue should emergency evacuation be triggered by the sounding of the fire alarm. Open area / anti-panic lighting is relevant in such situations to aid in the identification of escape routes and exits and the guidance of people towards them.
- High risk task lighting is a specific type of emergency lighting provided to ensure the safety of people involved in a potentially dangerous process or situation. It must be sufficient to enable the requisite shut-down procedures to be implemented. This type of lighting will only apply across a limited range of scenarios.
The above distinctions serve to emphasise the role of emergency escape lighting in fire safety and how it is adapted and applied, on a case by case basis, according to the specific use and occupancy levels of a particular building and / or areas within it.
Where is emergency escape lighting necessary?
In detail, as noted in the HM Government publication Fire safety risk assessment: offices and shops (p 100), an emergency escape lighting system should normally cover the following:
- Each exit door
- Escape routes
- Intersection of corridors
- Outside each final exit and on external escape routes
- Emergency escape signs
- Stairways so that each flight receives adequate light
- Changes in floor level
- Windowless rooms and toilet accommodation exceeding 8m²
- Fire-fighting equipment
- Fire alarm call points
- Equipment that would need to be shut down in an emergency
- Areas in premises greater than 60m²
It is not necessary to provide individual lights (luminaires) for each item above, but there should be a sufficient overall level of light to allow them to be visible and usable.