When it comes to building safety and emergency lighting, electrical contractors have a pivotal role to play, writes Tamlite Technical Manager, Stephen Biggs.
Over the last few years, the safety of buildings has reached an ever-higher profile in the public consciousness. Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations in the aftermath of the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy concluded that major reform was needed.
Many of her recommendations regarding the delivery of a more robust regulatory system were reflected in the government’s draft Building Safety Bill, which easily represents the most sweeping change to building safety in the last 40 years.
But building safety was once again put under the spotlight earlier this year following a fire at New Providence Wharf in London. In releasing London Fire Brigade’s initial findings, Deputy Commissioner Richard Mills, said: “Despite our response to this fire and drawing on the many lessons learned from the Grenfell Tower fire, in many cases we are sadly still not seeing a culture change in all those responsible for fire safety in high rise buildings.
“The New Providence Wharf fire needs to be an urgent wake-up call to all building owners and managers. Look at the fire safety solutions inside your building and take action if they are not performing correctly. It is too late to wait for a fire to see if they work.”
Building a safer future
It once again highlights the work that needs to be done and the importance of everybody in the supply chain working together to make way for a safer future.
Given the essential role emergency lighting plays in providing vital time for the safe passage of occupants out of the building in the event of a fire, it would be easy to assume that it is a de facto priority in the development and maintenance of all buildings. Unfortunately, our experience indicates that, all too frequently, it is still an issue that is being tackled in the later stages of a project, and sometimes with inadequate knowledge of the technical and legal requirements.
Due to their involvement at every stage of a project, electrical contractors are arguably amongst the best-placed to ensure building owners and managers are aware of the implications and requirements of emergency lighting, with our check-list – available via the Tamlite website – helping to ensure this vital building safety system is fit for purpose.
Legal requirements: Now required to be installed and tested in line with British Standard BS 5266:1 2016, emergency lighting should provide adequate lighting levels and directional indication in the event of a mains failure. We often explain to our end user customers, that contractors are arguably the best-placed ‘cog in the wheel’ to provide the specialist insight they need to ensure regulatory compliance. It is also the contractors who can best convey the benefits of investing in high-quality and durable systems to clients. Tamlite also provides assistance to contractors, with supporting items such as our emergency lighting checklist, and can always liaise in order to find the correct solution.
Risk assessment: One of the most common mistakes made with emergency lighting include missing risk assessments, yet it is a legal requirement to have one. Taking accountability throughout the lifecycle of a building will play a key role in restoring confidence in the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of premises, so it is important to ensure that risk assessments have been carried out and that the systems in place are fit for purpose.
Lighting design: Emergency lighting products must conform to BS EN60598-2-22. It is important to ensure that the luminaires address a number of core issues. These include: the function of the building or room/area; the mode of operation (for example, office, commercial or residential); the extent to which users are familiar with the building, including consideration of whether it receives many short-term visitors; specific usage and how it is likely to change over time; aesthetic requirements, including compliance with listed status if applicable; and the fact that different fixture heights and distances will be required for lighting in various areas of the building.
Maintenance and testing: Another common mistake is a lack of maintenance checks and regular testing of emergency lighting systems. Like all emergency equipment, emergency lighting should be maintained and tested regularly to ensure it is in full working order, and it is a legal requirement that emergency lighting be tested in line with of BS 5266:1 2016. For example, a daily visual inspection can be carried out to check the batteries are operational, whilst a monthly test must be carried out to ensure luminaires turn on in the event of a power outage. Any remedial work on failures should be carried out and recorded. Emergency lighting systems must undergo a full test on an annual basis. This test ensures that all emergency lights continue to function for a 3-hours duration.
Choose the right partner
The importance of emergency lighting cannot be understated. In this context, it is advisable to partner with a specialist lighting provider such as Tamlite, safe in the knowledge that this provides the most direct route to achieving an emergency infrastructure that is entirely fit for purpose. The company provides an elite range of compliant emergency lighting, for multiple applications.
There is no doubt that it will take some years for the public in general to feel confident about the safety of buildings. But collectively we can all play a key role in constructing a culture of responsibility, providing the way forward to a brighter, safer future.
TO VIEW TAMLITE’S COMPLETE EMERGENCY LIGHTING RANGE CLICK HERE