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Upgrading to LED lighting – what to do about the emergency lighting.

November 22, 2017

Where do I start?

Perhaps a good place to start would be to understand the risks you and your building are currently taking:

  • Have you got accurate and up to date records of the testing of your emergency lighting system?
  • As many buildings do not seem to have this, it would be a good idea to run a full duration test (3 hour) to see what still works (if a central system, this should be a full duration, full load test).
  • Whilst walking around to do this, try to rethink what has changed since this building or area was designed and installed? Often it will have changed in ownership, use, occupancy, layout (think escape routes), legislation updated and new equipment (including firefighting equipment) with potentially new risks introduced. Do the signs lead you out?  Are they the same style throughout?      

Who is responsible for all of this? Probably you!

You may not be aware that since the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005,it is no longer the fire officer’s responsibility for each building and each employer must have a “responsible person” who should ensure that an assessment of all the risks of the building have been carried out, updated and recorded on a regular basis. 

  • This risk assessment will include how to avoid fires, putting appropriate procedures and equipment in place to secure the safe egress of anyone in the building at any time to a safe assembly point– this could be a lone cleaner, maintenance engineer, a visitor (think customer or contractor), or the more usual scenario comprising employees. Having done this – are you worried that you might not be providing a suitable and safe system?  And that you might be one of the persons deemed responsible, in law, for this duty of care?  You could be fined or go to prison if you don’t follow fire safety regulations?

How can I overcome these issues?

Firstly, readdress or update the risk assessments with those responsible. You must identify high risks, designated escape routes and fire-fighting equipment locations must be determined. 

Then it is straightforward to follow the procedures in BS5266 Part1 2016 (BS EN 1838:2013)for planning emergency lighting.

Whilst there are tax incentives to save energy by updating your conventional or “mains” lighting, it is a legal responsibility for employers, and building regulations, to ensure emergency lighting is provided as a “life safety” system. 

So, if you are upgrading your mains lighting, there are at least three ways that technology and LED can help you, over your old lighting system’s capabilities:

  1. Diffuser technology – by improving the spread of light around the room to make it a more pleasant environment to work in, now “cut-off” of light is less harsh due to the adaptation of screen technology and adoption of better “mains lighting” practices.  Emergency lighting integrated within a luminaire can give a slightly better spread, this may mean less emergency lights are needed.
  2. Standalone LED emergency systems – the compact and efficient nature of LED’s, combined with advances in lens technology, means emergency lighting can be separated from the mains lighting plus the spacings can be greatly improved in both panic (open plan areas) and escape routes (corridors and walkways). It is also easier to add localised lighting for “high risk” areas. Smaller light source and batteries make this option carry less aesthetic impact nowadays.
  3. Automated testing – emergency luminaires can either self-test and display faults by coded red/green indicator signals, or be connected to a network allowing centralised testing and record keeping if desired.

These options can be combined with escape signage to provide a system compliant with all the current legislation. It could help your business avoid losses and even continue to trade if these risks are identified and tackled.

Where can I get help? – Llumarlite has a team of ICEL Competent Engineers who may already be helping you to save energy with your mains lighting.  We can help guide you to make appropriate risk assessments, identify needs and design a solution right through installation to commissioning & testing. In addition, we have a vast experience of the demands and restrictions retrofitting lighting can pose. If appointed, Llumarlite will also recycle all your old equipment and batteries safely.