Is your social housing property emergency compliant?
What is emergency lighting?
Emergency lighting is illumination required during an emergency situation such as during a power cut or fire, when standard lighting fails. In social housing, it ensures residents are not left in total darkness during such circumstances and provides safe guidance towards escape egress points should evacuation be required.
Social housing providers have to adhere to very strict emergency regulations which not only require emergency lighting to be functional at all times, but also necessitate monthly and yearly functional and duration tests on all emergency luminaires.
The long-awaited revision to the Emergency Lighting Code of Practice BS5266:1 2016 has brought major changes when it comes to the design, installation and maintenance of emergency lighting in social housing.
As emergency lighting is often triggered as a result of a power failure rather than an actual emergency, the new standard introduces the concept of ‘stay put’ lighting that will enable occupants to stay in place if the emergency situation is seen as ‘minimum risk’. Occupants may be moved to a safe refuge, so escape lighting has to be combined with ‘stay put’ illumination.
The revised emergency lighting standard suggests that light levels designed for a ‘stay put’ regime should be designed for higher levels than those required for evacuation. Meanwhile, the minimum illuminance figure for escape routes has been increased to 1 lux from 0.2 lux, in line with European requirements.
It is now permissible, where ‘stay put’ lighting is in place, to switch off emergency lighting in order to extend the available life of the system, provided that reliable alternative illumination is available.
For the first time ‘borrowed light’ – the use of a second exterior source of lighting during a power cut – is defined by the standards. Adjacent emergency lighting may be acceptable as a source of borrowed light during an emergency. Street lights, meanwhile, should not be relied on as some local authorities are switching-off or dimming lamps during off-peak hours for energy saving purposes.
We’re also going to be speaking at the Emergency Lighting Conference on the 28th June at the Cavendish Conference Centre, London. For more details on getting your ticket visit http://emergencylightingconference.com/