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Landlords, is your emergency lighting up to scratch?

Author: Richard Bevan
Published: March 9, 2017

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When it comes to fire safety, landlords have certain legal obligations to which they must adhere in order to ensure the protection of their property and the safety of their tenants.

As part of these obligations, landlords must make sure that all emergency routes and exits are adequately lit by emergency lighting, in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 - the key legislation that drives the implementation of fire safety systems within non-domestic premises. All emergency lighting systems must also adhere to a number of British and European standards, details of which can be found in our emergency lighting guide.

What is emergency lighting?

In simplest terms, emergency lighting is battery backed lighting that switches on automatically when a building experiences a power outage. There are two main types of emergency lighting; emergency escape lighting, and standby lighting. Standby lighting allows normal work to continue after a power failure, but does not form part of a building’s fire protection.

Emergency escape lighting

Emergency escape lighting is defined by The British Standards Institution (BSI) as ‘that part of emergency lighting that is provided to enable safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply’. Emergency escape lighting is part of the fire safety provision of a building, and a requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and is subdivided into the following three areas:

  • Escape route lighting - Escape route lighting ensures exits can be easily identified and used by occupants in the event of an emergency. Emergency sign boxes are a common example of emergency escape route lighting.

Eterna 8W Emergency Exit Box SignEterna 8W Emergency Exit Box Sign

  • Open area lighting - The main aim of open area lighting is to reduce panic in the event of an emergency and help occupants reach an area where an emergency exit can be found. Bulkhead lights are a common solution for open area emergency lighting.
  • High risk task area lighting - High risk task area lighting is less relevant for landlords as it is the part of the emergency escape lighting system that aids the safety of those who are carrying out a potentially dangerous task at the time of an emergency. This could include anyone using dangerous machinery or equipment that could endanger the user or other people if not shutdown properly.

Points of emphasis - lighting the way

The critical areas of an emergency escape route are called ‘points of emphasis’. An emergency escape lighting system should cover the following areas:

  • Emergency exit doors
  • Exit and safety signs
  • All flights of stairs
  • Changes in floor level
  • Changes of direction
  • Intersections of corridors/escape routes
  • Fire alarm call points
  • First aid posts
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Outside and near (within 2m) each final exit

The risk of getting it wrong

Non-compliance with emergency lighting standards and legislation can result in heavy fines or worse for landlords and property agents, not to mention posing a significant risk to tenants. Earlier this year the owner of a Nottingham-based letting company was fined £200,000 and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment after admitting to a number of breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which included, amongst other things, a failure to provide adequate emergency lighting.

To avoid the risk of fines or worse, landlords should ensure they routinely review their emergency lighting in keeping with recent legislation and emergency lighting standards.

Lyco offers a wide range of emergency lighting solutions, including emergency fittings, exit signs conversion kits and more, to help landlords fulfill their obligations and keep their tenants safe. Further information about emergency lighting more generally can be found in this guide, compiled by the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL).