Emergency Lighting Explained: BS5266 Part 1


Emergency Escape Lighting That part of emergency lighting provided to enable safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply.

Escape Route Lighting That part of emergency lighting provided to enable safe exit for building occupants by providing appropriate visual conditions and direction finding on escape routes

Open Area (or Anti-Panic Area) Lighting That part of emergency escape lighting provided to reduce the likelihood of panic and to enable safe movement of occupants towards escape routes

High Risk Task Area Lighting That part of emergency lighting provided to ensure the safety of people involved in a potentially dangerous process or situation and to enable proper shut down procedures to be carried out



It is important if possible to consult with all relevant persons so the ‘Responsible person’ can explain the Hazards and people at risk together with the capabilities of maintenance and operating staff to enable the design and installing engineer can match the emergency lighting to the application needs

Design preparation

Plans of the premises are now even more essential Ideally they will include –
Mains lighting
Fire alarm equipment
Fire compartments & escape routes
When the design is proposed the responsible person should be able to check the interface of all the systems
The risk assessment should be available showing –
The location and types of people at risk e.g. Disabled
Any hazard areas in the building.
Any activities which must be able to safely continue in a supply failure

Design Decisions-Duration

Basic information to provide an acceptable design
Three hour duration is recommended by the guides and is specifically required in –
places of entertainment or for sleeping risk
Premises where evacuation is not immediate
Premises where early re-occupation may occur.

One hour duration may be used, in some premises, but only if the following conditions are met.
evacuation is immediate in a supply failure
re-occupation is delayed until the system has fully recharged.

Emergency Lighting Design Stages (1- 5 must be covered for compliance to BS 5266-1)

1st Locate and site Exit signs
2nd Locate luminaires at points of emphasis
3rd Define and illuminate escape routes
4th Locate and illuminate open areas
5th Check if there are any High risk task areas

Stage 1 – Site Exit Signs

Ensure that Signs complying with the Signs Directive are located at all emergency Exits and along Escape routes
Where direct sight of a sign is not possible a directional sign or series of signs must be used
There should be no ambiguity as to which direction the escape route follows
While it is acceptable to use painted signs illuminated from a remote emergency light provided it is within 2 metres it is difficult to prove that the adequate values of illumination have been achieved and particular care must be taken that they will be adequately visible in an emergency.

Format of Emergency Exit Signs

The ISO 3864 format is intended to be the new common format and should be used where possible
Signs should be illuminated to EN 1838/BS 5266-7
Signs should be located at final exits and anywhere that the route may be in doubt
To make the signs more visible at all times in premises where occupants are unfamiliar with the building it is recommended that maintained operation is used

Luminance requirements

Luminance of the green shall be at least 2cd/m2
Ratio of max. to min. luminance shall be less than 10:1
The ratio of luminance between white and the colour shall be between 5:1 and 10:1
Colours shall be as ISO 3864 i.e. White out of Green
Checked by Luminaire tests to BS EN 60598-2-22

Signs – luminance

Luminance of self illuminated signs is detailed and checked by the tests in BS EN 60598-2-22
Previously as a practical rule the standard required an externally illuminated safety signs to be illuminated by an emergency luminaire to be located within 2 metres. This still applies but in addition there is now a requirement that the illumination of a remote sign should be not less than 5 lx.

Signs Viewing Distance

(If the viewer is not predominantly facing the sign at 900 the viewing factor should be reduced by the cosine of the angle of viewing to the normal of the sign.)

Exit signs Points of emphasis
Luminaries must be sited – at each exit door to Illuminate Exit and other safety signs

Exit signs Points of emphasis

Luminaries must be sited – at each exit door to Illuminate Exit and other safety signs

System integrity

Failure of emergency lighting luminaire The risks of occupants being in total darkness in the event of failure of individual emergency lighting luminaires should be compensated for by ensuring that illumination from at least two luminaires is visible in each room or zone of the escape route or protected rooms.
Provision of highly reliable emergency escape lighting is essential.
In the event of a failure of a single luminaire the other fitting will prevent the compartment being in total darkness
This requirement not only protects against luminaire failure but also enables testing by switching alternate luminaires in premises which are always occupied.

Testing of emergency lighting

Regardless of the type of testing system a number of considerations always apply
The system must be appropriate for the application
The tests consist of –
A monthly function test
At least monthly to check the luminaire operates
An annual duration test
At least annually for full duration
Risks during the duration test must be minimised
Re-charging must be checked after the tests

Testing and recording

If there are any failures these must be noted and the action taken identified Test logs should cover the data in the model certificate.

Information in this guide is given in good faith, but Cannon Fire and Security cannot be held responsible for any omissions or errors. The company reserves the right to change specifications of products at any time and without prior notice.

For more information please visit www.cannonsecurity.co.uk, call 0117 974 8999 or email info@cannonsecurity.co.uk

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