We’re all familiar with them: the green illuminated rectangle that adorns doorways and entrances in every single commercial space, office, or retail store.
But when does a space require emergency and exit lighting? It can be hard to find a simple answer online, so we’re here to help you determine whether a public or commercial space need exit lighting. We’ve also answered some common questions you might be tempted to ask.
Do I need emergency and exit lighting?
There are two general rules you should know:
Emergency and exit lighting requirements vary depending on the “class” of a building.
As per Australian building codes, there are 10 classes of buildings, each with their own distinctive parameters. You can view an easy-to-understand table outlining the various types of building classes here.
A hotel, for example, would likely be classified as a Class 3 building, whereas a parking lot, say, at a shopping centre or in the city, would likely be a Class 7a building.
Who is responsible for the correct installation of exit lighting?
Generally, the owner of the building or the building manager is responsible for the correct and safe installation of exit and emergency lighting.
Emergency and exit lighting inspection and maintenance
It’s important to know that not only are regular inspections mandatory, but data needs to be logged in the form of a hard copy, logbook, or electronic copy.
Every six months, commercial exit and emergency lighting must be tested for defective bulbs, to ensure lights are working as intended, and to perform an emergency lighting test. If any fails are recorded they must be repaired or replaced. When the test is passed, a compliance certificate is presented and the pass is recorded.
In addition to six-month testing, fittings should be inspected and cleaned every 12 months.
A licensed electrician can perform emergency and exit lighting maintenance in conjunction with routine testing and tagging.
How are exit signs and exit lighting used?
You might remember the green illuminated boxes with the words EXIT in white. New regulations introduced in 2005 required that – in new builds – these signs were replaced with the more internationally friendly image of the “running man” illuminated in white on that same recognisable green background.
Buildings that correctly had the EXIT signs installed did not need to update their signage; the amendment to the regulation was for new builds from 2007 onwards.
Most building, fire, and health and safety codes require exit lights to be permanently illuminated.
What is emergency lighting?
Think “emergency lighting” and the first image that pops into your head might be candles and torches needed during an unexpected blackout at home.
However when we talk about emergency lighting in this instance, we mean specialised lighting solutions designed to deliver light automatically when a building experiences a power outage.
Emergency lighting is therefore almost always battery operated. Most building and safety codes require the safe implementation of an emergency lighting system to protect the safety of occupants. Occupants include:
- Guests and tenants
Emergency lighting is common in buildings with high occupancy – think apartment blocks and collage dorms.
Emergency and exit lighting installation (and testing)
It’s important that – as with any other job involving electricity – you choose only a licensed and qualified electrician to undertake this painstaking task.
Not only is it dangerous, it’s also illegal to do your own electrical work.
A licensed electrician must also perform testing. They will safely and accurately perform a power down/discharge test.
Customising your exit and emergency commercial lighting solution
While it’s a requirement for the majority of buildings and commercial spaces to have exit and emergency lighting, a customised solution is generally required in order to meet regulations akin to specific room dimensions.
Differences in floor space, corridor length, and stairwells can all affect the strategy behind exit and emergency lighting. We know the rules back to front and will create the right solution for your commercial space!