Half of emergency light schemes ‘won’t work’ in incident

The emergency lighting installations in half of our public buildings no longer meets the required lighting standards. That’s the conclusion of a major survey of emergency equipment installers commissioned by fire detection manufacturer Hochiki Europe.

The report reveals that 56 per cent of European businesses are failing to keep their safety systems up to date following fit-outs and refurbishments.

One of the major problems appears to arise as a consequence of internal refurbishments, when areas are reorganised to suit new requirements, but the emergency lighting is not altered to suit those changes.

Standards are clear that any change to a designated escape routes requires a similar adjustment in the lighting of that route. A new risk assessment is also essential before any installation can be deemed to be fit for purpose and that includes an assessment of any designated illumination for fire-fighting equipment stations. If equipment is shifted from one place to another, then dedicated lighting needs to follow it.

Maintenance is also singled out as an issue. The survey suggests that building owners see emergency lighting as a fit-and-forget system, with 55 per cent of the survey respondents reporting that customers seem to be more concerned with initial expenditure rather than the on-going cost of running and maintaining the system. Almost a quarter of those surveyed felt that building managers see maintenance as an unnecessary expense, with almost 75 per cent seeing system maintenance as a ‘tick box’ exercise.

The top five failings reported were:

  • Inadequate emergency lighting signage
  • Inadequate illuminance levels
  • Blocked emergency exits
  • Batteries not charged or not working
  • Inadequate logbook records being kept

‘Many building owners do not realise that new fire risk assessments should be carried out when a room or building has had a change of use,’ says Simon Massey of Hochiki. ‘As an industry, we need to help building owners understand such fire safety regulations.’


  • A one-day Lux conference on Emergency Lighting takes place on Thursday 25 February at the Cavendish Conference Centre, London. Delegate places are free to facility managers, energy managers, consulting engineers and other independent specifiers. To register for a free place at the conference, click HERE


Picture: Rui Moura


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