Emergency lighting is vital for schools, colleges, universities, and all other educational institutions.
Not only does it help students, teachers, and visitors evacuate the building safely in an emergency, but it also helps emergency personnel like paramedics and firefighters navigate their way around.
In this article, we’ll examine the emergency lighting requirements for UK schools and educational establishments.
Want to know about the PAT testing requirements for schools? Check out this article.
Do schools need emergency lighting?
Yes. Emergency lighting is a legal requirement for all non-domestic buildings, including schools, colleges, and universities.
Some people believe that schools don’t need emergency lighting as they only operate during the day. However, many schools operate at night and in the morning, for example, as community hubs.
Emergency lighting requirements for schools
The emergency lighting requirements for non-domestic buildings in the UK, including schools, are set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The specific requirements for emergency lighting are set out in BS 5266-1:2016 (code of practice for the emergency lighting of premises lighting).
This standard specifies the minimum illuminance levels and other requirements for emergency lighting in different types of buildings, including schools and educational establishments.
The specific emergency lighting requirements specify that emergency lighting must be provided in all:
- Classrooms, laboratories, and other teaching spaces
- Toilets and washrooms
- Storage areas
- Areas where there is a risk of fire, such as kitchens and boiler rooms
All emergency lighting systems must be designed and installed by a competent person. They will conduct an audit before installing an emergency lighting system, taking the design and layout of the school into account.
How frequently must emergency lighting in schools be maintained and tested?
It is a legal requirement that emergency lighting in schools is well-maintained. This is best achieved through frequent testing. We recommend that schools carry out battery drainage testing (often called a ‘duration test’) once a year.
Battery drainage testing must be done by a competent engineer with the appropriate skills and training.
The test measures how long it takes for the batteries in an emergency lighting system to discharge. The test results should be compared to the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure the batteries function properly.
It’s recommended that battery drainage testing be carried out outside regular school hours to avoid inconvenience to staff and students.
By performing battery drainage testing, you can ensure your emergency lighting system is always in good working order and will provide the necessary light in the event of a power outage.