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Emergency Lighting Standard

Standards as per the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting, Ref Code of Practice BS 5266 Part 1: 2011

Overall target of working to this standard

  • To indicate clearly and unambiguously the escape routes
  • To provide illumination along such routes to allow safe movements towards and through the exits provided to an evacuation point, which may be outside
  • To ensure that fire alarm call points and firefighting equipment provided along escape routes can be readily located
  • To permit operations directly concerned with safety measures
  • To ensure that luminaires provide sufficient level of light to enable occupants to use the escape routes safely

Emergency lighting shall be sited at all points of emphasis as listed below:

  • Each exit door intended to be used in an emergency
  • Within 2m of stairs
  • Within 2m of any other change in level
  • Mandatory emergency exits and safety signs
  • Each change of direction
  • Each intersection of corridors
  • Within 2m of each final exit and outside the building to a place of safety
  • Within 2m of first aid point or disabled refuge point
  • Within 2m of firefighting equipment, manual call point or fire alarm panel
  • Risk areas such as kitchens or chemical stores
  • Inside lift cars and over control / manual winding equipment
  • Over escalators and moving walkways
  • Any toilets larger than 8m2 or with no natural light
  • Within plant rooms, above electrical distribution equipment, lighting or generator control equipment etc.
  • Examination and treatment rooms

Escape routes should have a minimum lighting level of 1 Lux with the emergency lighting in operation.


It is important that emergency lighting is illuminated if the normal lighting fails, as this might be a result of a total supply failure or my operation of the circuit protective device. Non-maintained lights must be controlled by the normal lighting supply, whereas maintained lights can be on their own final circuit.


The escape route emergency lighting system in each room, area or route shall be from at least 2 luminaires, to ensure that failure of one luminaire does not plunge an area of the escape route into complete darkness, or make the directional finding effect useless.

Emergency Light Definitions

MAINTAINED EMERGENCY LUMINAIRE – A luminaire containing one or more lamps all of which operate from the normal supply or from the emergency supply

NON-MAINTAINED EMERGENCY LUMINAIRE – A luminaire containing one or more lamps, which operate from the emergency supply only upon failure of the normal mains

SELF-CONTAINED EMERGENCY LUMINAIRE – A luminaire or sign providing emergency lighting in which all the elements such as battery, lamp and control unit are contained within the housing

SLAVE OR CENTRALLY SUPPLIED LUMINAIRE – A luminaire without its own batteries designed to work with a central battery system and wiring within one metre of the luminaire

COMBINED EMERGENCY LUMINAIRE – A luminaire that contains 2 or more lamps, at least one of which is energised from the emergency supply and the remainder from the normal supply. The emergency lamp will either be maintained or non-maintained

Use of exit signs

Exit signs above a doorway used to indicate a safe escape route should be installed so as to indicate the direction of travel after you have used the doorway.

emergency-light-upIf the doorway escape route leads to a change in level upwards or remains on the same level then an up arrow is to be used.

If the doorway escape route leads to a change in level downwards then a down arrow is to be used.

Test records and frequency

Appropriate test records must be kept and be available for inspection if required by the fire authorities. It should contain a full record of both annual full duration and monthly functional tests. Any faults should be recorded together with any action needed to protect occupants until repairs are complete and also the action to get the repairs conducted.

  1. Annual full 3-hour duration test by competent person
  2. Monthly operation (flick) test by responsible person
  3. Details of safeguards for the premises while repairs are being completed
  4. Details of any faults and rectification information

It might be possible for some companies/maintenance contracts to request different testing intervals. BS 5266 Part 1 lists the intervals above and so we will carry out any testing as per this Approved Code of Practice.


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