Since the beginning of 2021, there have been 78 structural fire fatalities reported to the government by the state of California. Sadly, there have also been five on-duty firefighter fatalities. Separately, wildfires have destroyed over 119 structures.
Fatalities can often be prevented with the right tools are in place. Most homes and offices have at least one of the following: fire extinguishers, emergency exits, exit plans, smoke alarms, fire escapes, and exit signs. Some even have sprinkler and fire suppression systems.
These methods are excellent in prevention and in an emergency. However, there is one thing many people forget to consider when implementing fire safety methods. They forget about power outages. When there is a structural fire, the power will go out, impairing your vision, causing you to panic, and putting yourself at a higher risk for a negative outcome.
In one study of nearly 2,100 American workers, 34% said they lack confidence in their ability to navigate their workplace in case of a power outage, and 50% said they could not walk up and down stairs safely in the dark.
You must be able to see to find the exit door and escape the fire, which is why emergency lighting in fire safety is a crucial element.
What is Emergency Lighting?
Emergency lighting provides light in closed and open spaces when regular lighting fails or is damaged. In emergencies, occupants of a building must be able to find their way out of dangerous situations, like structural fires. Emergency lighting helps them see exit doors and stairwells that lead to the outdoors, to safety.
There are different types of emergency lighting, including emergency escape, standby, emergency route, anti-panic, and high-risk task area lighting.
Working with a licensed fire protection company can help you determine which emergency lighting is best for your home or office.
The California codes of regulations states emergency illumination refers to egress lighting, illuminated exit signs, and all other lights needed to provide lighting. They must be able to prevent any space from being in total darkness. They must be installed in schools, hospitals, retail businesses, factories, and offices, preferably by the state fire marshall.
There are building ordinances and codes, OSHA regulations, national electrical codes, life safety codes, and international fire codes that apply to emergency lighting.
In commercial and industrial buildings, emergency lighting must be used to help people find their way out of a building while reducing panic in an emergency. Emergency lights must be operated by rechargeable batteries or on an independent source of electricity like a generator.
This leads to one of the most critical factors regarding emergency lighting. It must be tested regularly to ensure the batteries and the lights are working correctly. While you can test them yourself, it is best to get a licensed and certified fire protection company to verify findings.
Testing and Inspecting
All states have requirements on how often your emergency lighting must be inspected and tested. Both insurance companies and local and state regulations require testing and inspection of fire safety products.
For emergency lighting, it is expected you follow specific guidelines for testing and maintenance. Most often, testing is done in 30-day intervals for at least thirty seconds. You must keep written documentation of the day, time, and test results, all of which may be verified by your local and state inspectors. The inspection also includes the orientation of the sign or light and if there is damage.
Annual inspections require a 90-minute battery test and testing of bulbs, terminals, leads, and circuits. All must be functioning to pass inspection.
Working with a local fire safety company means they can install and replace bulbs, lighting units, batteries, and exit units as often as you need it.
Further fire safety measures can be implemented by the leaders and staff of the companies or building operators and supervisors. Create an evacuation plan that incorporates emergency lighting. Practice the evacuation plan with all occupants to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of a fire or other power outage.
Types of Emergency Signs and Lighting
Popular emergency signs and lighting include LED signs and Self Luminous Tritium Exit Signs, but you should understand all the different types before deciding the right one for your building.
Exit signs and egress pathway emergency lighting. Exit signs are usually found above a doorway and light up in either red or green color. There are thermoplastic, self-luminous, photoluminescent, and edge-lit. Egress pathway lighting is installed on the floor so you can better see where you are walking. This is a significant benefit when climbing up and downstairs.
Temporary or standby lighting allows important or special activities to continue even during a power outage. For example, if someone must work outdoors during a freezing rainstorm, you would use temporary lighting that is water-resistant and have an internal heater.
The types of standby emergency lighting include thermoplastic, steel, wet, architectural, and hazardous locations. Hazardous emergency lighting is used in the most extreme environments, like where gases and vapors are ignitable. Underground mines could be one example.
Architectural is for those who want an upscale design. Steel lighting is often used in warehouses and factories. Thermoplastic is the most affordable.
Before making this vital decision, consult with your local fire protection company. They can advise you on the best product for your space.
Choosing the Right Fire Safety Services Team
There are two essential factors to consider when choosing a company to provide consultation and services about emergency lighting in fire safety, including:
- Choose a locally owned company that knows codes and ordinances that apply to your building. They are accessible and care about your community because it is their community too.
- Choose a licensed and certified company to provide all services, including installation, testing, repair, and maintenance.
To learn more about emergency lighting in fire safety, reach out today either online or by phone. We want to help you stay safe.