fire safety legislation states that people in premises must be able to find their way to a place of total safety if there is a fire by using escape routes that have sufficient illumination.
The regulations, standards, and guidance on this issue are comprehensive and designed to ensure that each building’s particular needs are thoroughly examined and understood.
BS 5266, the code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises, offers guidance on the positioning of luminaires, minimum light levels, acceptable glare levels and minimum routine testing schedules. It states that, in open areas larger than 60 square metres, emergency lighting and signage should be installed.
It is important to bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all way of assessing the risk within a building. Buildings are all built differently and have specific uses. For instance, a hospital or home for the elderly will have different fire safety needs than an office.
When designing an emergency lighting system covering escape routes, luminaires should be installed at points of emphasis -- mandatory locations that need to highlight specific hazards, safety equipment, and signs.
They should be installed at points of emphasis, such as areas near stairs, at changes of level, and near fire-fighting equipment and manual call points. Placement should occur at each change of direction, outside and close to each final exit, at first aid points, at exit doors, and near safety signs.
Achieving the correct lux level is a must. BS 5266 recommends a minimum of 1 lux in escape routes and 0.5 lux in open areas. Emergency lighting should also be positioned in such a way as to ensure that people are free from disability glare, which can prevent obstructions or signs from being properly seen.
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