Emergency, Feature

10 ways to exceed the emergency lighting regs

There is a raft of ways to exceed the minimum regulations in the Building Standards covering emergency lighting. Ensuring signs are consistent, that indoor stairwells are lit the same as outdoor stairwells, and using luminaires with TP(a) plastics as standard are just some of the simple measures that make the difference between a minimum installation and best practice.

AFTER AN incident, you won’t want to be defending your fire safety arrangements as the bare minimum to comply with the law.

Far better, surely, to pay a small premium for peace of mind and demonstrate that your emergency lighting rated as the industry’s best practice, and that your exceeded the minimum where you could.

Here’s 10 ways you can sensibly improve your installation and give your staff, colleagues and occupants better protection in the event that disaster strikes.



Use lights with Tp (a)-rated diffusers as standard

Tp (a) diffusers only need to be used in certain areas, especially designated escape routes according to Part B of the Building Regs – however if in doubt, just use lights with Tp (a)-rated diffusers – rather than TP (b) everywhere.


Specify three hour instead of one hour

The minimum legal duration of emergency lighting is one hour (BS-EN1838). However, it’s wise to adopt best practice and over-specify to three hours (see BS 5266-) as it will allow the premises to be reoccupied immediately.


Fire extinguisher points need to be illuminated as a ‘ point of emphasis’

Make sure all ‘points of emphasis’ are lit

This is often overlooked. Stair threads, changes in floor level, fire equipment, first aid posts and changes in direction all require additional illumination. All luminaires sited at points of emphasis must comply with BS EN 60 598-2-22.


Make sure you have adequate lighting for external muster points

Remember, under BS EN 1838, your emergency lighting system has to cover all escape routes to the place of safety, which may be away from the building. They must be lit by the emergency lighting system or an independent power supply.


Avoid fire hoods

Without care, these can easily overheat the recessed light fitting. You’re also relying on the contractor to ensure the ceiling integrity after installation. Better to use a certified fire-rated downlight in the first place. 


Treat external stairs the same as internal stairs

Light outdoor stairwells – such as those in apartment blocks – to the same level as internal stairwells. However, specify one-hour back-up, not three-hours, as NiCd batteries can’t cope with low temperatures. 


Consider integrating fire alarms and emergency lighting

Connecting your fire alarm system with the emergency lighting network ensures that the latter illuminates in the event that the fire alarm is triggered and irrespective if the mains feed is available or not. 


Don’t mix signs

Many installations feature a mixture of emergency exit signs. Some (pre-2011) signs show the arrow going down, some (post-2011) show the arrow going up. Make sure your estate uses consistent signage.


Ensure you can see the indicator LEDs

The red and green indicator LEDs are vital for a visual inspection of your emergency lighting installation, yet often they’re obscured by glare and clutter. Take special care with downlights, which are often too bright.


Use reputable products

Alarmingly, a year after the Grenfell Tower fire there is still a lot of substandard emergency lighting products on the UK market. Give yourself piece of mind by specifying at a minimum equipment from ICEL or BAFE members.


  • Emergency lighting and the responsibilities of building owners will be the focus of the conference programme at the Escape Zone at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition taking place at ExCeL London on Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018. Entry is completely free if you pre-register HERE.