While most building owners and operators are aware that their building must have emergency lighting installed – to the appropriate standards – they are not always so aware of the maintenance requirements.
The importance of emergency lighting in a fire or power failure cannot be understated. Without light even a familiar environment becomes more dangerous and more frightening, so it is essential not only that the emergency lighting comes on when needed but also stays on for the required duration.
"In some cases, fault indicators on luminaires have been ignored for several years”
Yet one thing that many building operators frequently overlook is the fact that batteries degrade the more frequently they are charged and discharged. As time goes on, they can no longer last as long as they need to.
Of course, emergency lighting regulations require regular full duration testing, but that’s not to say it is always carried out. For example, where the testing is carried out using a manual key switch, does the maintenance engineer always wait for the required duration, which can be up to three hours?
Also, many buildings use standalone systems built into the luminaires. These will have some form of fault indicator but somebody has to look out for these indicators. In some cases, these indicators have been ignored for several years.
Clearly the answer is to make better use of the technologies available. New battery technologies combined with low-energy LED lighting are one element of mitigating the risk of batteries running down. In parallel, automatic monitoring systems can carry out full duration testing and detect any problems with the lamp, battery or other aspects of circuit.
It would also be good to see some link to insurance premiums, with an opportunity for reduced premiums for those buildings that make use of these technologies to reduce the risk to occupants. Whatever happens, we must do something quickly to address this issue, and the lighting industry has a key role to play in this.
Don't miss Lux's Emergency Lighting Conference 2015 on Thursday 23 April in London