Electrical Contracting News (ECN) September 2016 - Page 29

EMERGENCY LIGHTING EXIT STRATEGY In the main, emergency lighting systems consist of self-contained emergency luminaires. The digitisation of the modern workplace has paved the way for offices to become some of the most energy efficient buildings operating within the UK. Yet, in the event of a power cut during an emergency it is often ageing electrical infrastructure which is responsible for the safe evacuation of the building. With the UK’s commercial sector firmly focused on future proofing its building stock, Steve Marr at Legrand UK warns of the risks linked to archaic emergency lighting practice. W e are fortunate in the UK that we have excellent emergency services teams on hand to support us in times of crisis. However, despite fast response times, if disaster strikes in the workplace then employees must be able to quickly and safely exit the building, often well before the emergency services can arrive. Shedding a light on emergency systems Given how disorientated you can find yourself in total darkness or smoke filled corridors, an effective emergency lighting system is key to establishing familiarity and also highlighting the safest exit in the event of a fire or other emergency scenario. Emergency lighting systems are a legal requirement in any public building, in line with BS5266-1:2011, and employers that fail to maintain their buildings to this standard will quickly find themselves facing hefty criminal charges. However, businesses and landlords risk complacency if they feel that such a system, which only just meets the minimum requirements, renders employees fully safe in the event of an emergency. Given the ageing nature of much of the UK’s commercial building stock, many – as much as 80 per cent – of these emergency lighting systems are often examined and tested manually, generally during the middle of the night or when the building isn’t operational. Whilst such systems may have been installed in line with the requirements outlined by the British Standards, in the current age of advanced Building Management Systems (BMS), the maintenance practice has serious room for improvement given the potential risk for error it represents. Maintenance matters In the main, emergency lighting systems consist of self-contained emergency lumi