Almost all types of building need some type of emergency and escape lighting system

Activate fire safety can provide design packages to suit the customers’ requirements, ranging from simple emergency lighting schemes through to complex mechanical and electrical systems design with fire safety interfaces.  We work in association with a Telford based building services design consultancy (SJH Design & Consultancy Ltd). This partnering company shares the same philosophy as Activate Fire which is to deliver high quality, cost effective, reliable services and design solutions

Emergency and Escape Lighting

Emergency and escape lighting systems should conform to the recommendations in BS 5266-1 and the requirements of BS 5266-7 and 8. The primary purpose of emergency lighting (or emergency escape lighting) is to illuminate escape routes but it is also provided to illuminate signs and other safety equipment. The size and type of your premises and the risk to the occupants will determine the complexity of the emergency lighting required. In larger more complex premises a comprehensive system of fixed automatic escape lighting is likely to be needed. This will be particularly true in premises where there are significant numbers of staff or members of the public.

If escape routes require artificial illumination, you need to consider whether emergency lighting is necessary. The fire risk assessment will judge the likelihood that a fire will cause the normal lighting on any part of the escape route to fail before occupants escape from the area. This loss of normal lighting could result in injury as people try to evacuate the building.

Risk factors to consider include:

  • Length and complexity of the escape routes
  • Familiarity of the occupants with the building
  • Measures to control the development of fire
  • Measures to provide early warning of fire
  • Presence of borrowed light (e.g. from street lighting)
  • Hours during which people are using the building
  • Presence of sleeping accommodation
  • Presence of windowless areas

An emergency lighting system should normally cover the following:

  • Each exit doors
  • Escape routes
  • Intersections of corridors
  • Outside each final exit and on external escape routes
  • Emergency escape signs
  • Stairways so that each flight receives adequate light
  • Changes in floor level
  • Windowless rooms and toilet accommodation exceeding 8m2
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Fire alarm call points
  • Equipment that would need to be shut down in an emergency
  • Lifts
  • Open Areas (Rooms greater than 60m2)
  • High Risk Areas


It is not necessary to provide individual lights (luminaries) for each item above, but there should be a sufficient level of light overall to allow them to be visible and usable.

Emergency lighting can be ‘maintained’, i.e. on all the time, or ‘non-maintained’, i.e. normally off and only operates when the normal lighting fails. Emergency lights should operate for one, two or three hours, depending on the application but in practice most emergency lights are three hours. Emergency lights will also provide for some use in the premises during a power failure other than in an emergency situation.