emergency lighting requirements

Who Makes the Rules: IBC, NFPA & OSHA Emergency Lighting Requirements

Let's begin with the "who" – that is, the regulatory groups setting the rules. While you may have heard of OSHA, emergency lighting requirements are actually determined by three groups:

  • IBC: International Building Code provides requirements for means of egress.
  • NFPA: National Fire Protection Association. Their Code 101® is updated every three years to review guidelines for new and existing facilities and verify all building occupants are receiving the best protection from fire hazards.
  • OSHA: Occupational Safety & Health Administration provides guidance on exit routes and emergency planning.

Assuming you follow the emergency lighting requirements of OSHA, the IBC and NFPA, you shouldn't have any problems. The final judges, however, are your state and local building code ordinances. To avoid any potential issues, it's essential that you also familiarize yourself with these requirements.

What Types You Need: Requirements for Emergency Lighting

When it comes to requirements for emergency lighting and exit signs, it's important to identify the main types that must be installed in public locations. Whether the property is a standalone restaurant, a large shopping mall or a government building with both employees and the public present, there are certain types of lighting the location is required to have as a safety measure.

  • Exit Signs: These appear above an exit door. The letters in the word "Exit" should be at least 6 inches tall and 3/4 inches wide. Some local jurisdictions state the word "Exit" must be red.
  • Exit Access Route: The pathway people take to get to the emergency exit – including escalators, corridors or ramps– is called the exit access route and needs to be well-lit in an emergency. Any passage along an escape route that doesn't lead to an exit must be marked as either "Closet" or "Not an Exit" to avoid confusion in an emergency.
  • Exit Discharge: The exit discharge is the area on the other side of the emergency door and marks the end of the trail to safety.

These three areas need ample light to ensure visibility and safe passage. While there are generally few rules on what type of fixture is used regarding lamp type or style, the word "EXIT" must be visible and properly illuminated. The reliability of light-emitting diode (LED) Exit signs makes them a solid choice for safety lighting.

A standard guideline in emergency lighting regulations is that the electrical supply must kick in 10 seconds after normal power goes out, and the emergency lighting must stay lit for at least 90 minutes after the initial power loss. This is important as it ensures that all employees and customers have ample time to find their way out of a building with proper emergency lighting as their guide.

When an Emergency Lighting Inspection Should Take Place

Regular inspections ensure your lights and signs will operate appropriately in an emergency. Per the NFPA, you must undergo a complete emergency lighting inspection monthly and annually. During monthly checks, a log must be kept and should confirm the following:

  • The lighting has been installed correctly and is code-compliant.
  • The Equipment has not been physically damaged.
  • The emergency lighting system passes the 30-second push test.
  • The lamps are pointed in the right direction.

Yearly examinations should be more comprehensive:

  • The entire unit must be examined.
  • The lighting and battery system must pass a 90-minute test.
  • The battery's condition, voltage and manufacturer date must all be checked.
  • AC/DC lamps should be inspected to ensure they operate properly and have not been damaged.
  • Confirm the charging circuit is operating correctly.
  • After the test, apply an emergency lighting test label to each sign and fixture.

Where Emergency Lights Are Required

Along with being positioned all along the route that leads out of the building, emergency lights are required in storage rooms where essential equipment like fire pumps, generators and electrical systems are kept. Having emergency lights in these areas ensures firefighters and other safety personnel can access the equipment in an emergency.

Why Following Emergency Lighting Regulations Is Critical

One of the most compelling reasons for business owners to follow emergency lighting regulations is they'll face a stiff financial penalty (up to $250,000) for non-compliance that results in death – or penalties for lesser violations. However, there are also several other important reasons to follow these regulations:

  • Life Safety: The primary purpose of emergency lighting is to safeguard the lives of occupants in commercial buildings during emergency situations. By adhering to emergency lighting regulations, building owners ensure that occupants have the best possible chance of safely evacuating in critical situations, reducing the risk of injury or loss of life.
  • Orderly Evacuation: During emergencies, panic and confusion can quickly escalate, leading to chaos and hindering evacuation efforts. Properly designed and installed emergency lighting systems play a crucial role in maintaining order and providing clear guidance to occupants.
  • Occupant Confidence and Peace of Mind: Employees and visitors of commercial buildings rely on the presence of emergency lighting to feel safe and secure in their environment.
  • Emergency Response Effectiveness: Emergency lighting not only benefits the building occupants but also aids emergency responders in carrying out their duties effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Lighting Requirements

Following are some of the often-asked questions about emergency lighting requirements. Please let our team of lighting experts know if you have other questions or if you'd like free lighting design and layout assistance.

According to Emergency Lighting Code Requirements, Does Lighting Have to be Hardwired?

Emergency lighting code requirements state that egress lighting has to be hardwired – meaning served by your principal electrical supply. Additionally, you must have one of the following:

  • Battery-operated systems
  • Backup generator
  • Individual lights & signs with internal battery backups

Additionally, you must design your emergency lighting system so that even if only one bulb burns out, it doesn't leave a space that requires people to navigate their way to safety in the dark.

Do You Have Exit Signs & Emergency Lighting That Can Be Used in Wet Locations?

Yes, we carry signs and lighting fixtures for emergency use that operate in wet conditions. Check the product description to ensure the item you're interested in is sealed and gasketed for weatherproof performance.

What Is Your Warranty on Emergency Lights With Battery Backup?

Warehouse Lighting provides a 5-year warranty and our industry-leading product support when you purchase any of our premium commercial emergency lights with battery backup.

Partner With Warehouse-Lighting.com to Meet Emergency Lighting Requirements

Emergency lighting requirements hold immense significance for the safety and well-being of occupants. By following these regulations, building owners and facility managers ensure that their spaces are equipped with reliable and effective emergency lighting systems that can guide individuals to safety during critical situations. Warehouse-Lighting.com stands as a trusted partner in this pursuit, providing building owners with emergency lighting and any other commercial lighting fixtures and LED lights needed for your commercial building. Order your commercial lighting today!

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