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January 20, 2023

Understanding emergency lighting standards and providing clear signage to indicate the location of building exits is an essential safety requirement for all Australian commercial and residential buildings. The definition of building exits for Australian fire safety standards includes all external doors as well as fire stairways, fire escapes, ramps, enclosed passageways, and all other means of egress from the building that are safe and accessible to the public.

Just as all exits are required to boast exit signage, all emergency exits come with their own unique requirements for ensuring regulatory compliance. For instance, fire stairways must be kept clear of obstructions to boost efficiency and maintain the safety of evacuation procedures. Similarly, all emergency exit lighting in your building requires routine maintenance and testing performed in accordance with Australian & New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS 2293). 

In truth, regularly testing and replacing emergency lighting is just as crucial to ensuring building safety as scheduling routine fire equipment maintenance appointments. So what maintenance requirements should Australian building managers and business owners be aware of? 

Understanding Emergency Lighting Standards

Our fire safety technicians here at Alexon have used their industry know-how to provide an overview of Australian emergency lighting standards in order to illuminate the process of maintaining regulatory compliance. Read on to unearth answers to some of the most common questions surrounding emergency lighting standards.

View our frequently asked questions when it comes to understanding emergency lighting standards:

  1. How are emergency light fittings classified?
  2. How often should your fittings be inspected?
  3. How to maintain compliance with Australian emergency lighting standards

1.How are emergency light fittings classified?

Just as fire extinguishers and other fire equipment are accompanied by their own unique classifications, so too are emergency lights. Classifications for emergency light fittings include numeric and alphabetical elements, varying from anywhere between a Class A and Class E fitting, with this alphabetical classification then being followed up by a numeric value that generally ranges between 1-180 to represent degrees on an axis. 

The alphabetical value of a light fitting classification refers to the five different classes of photometric light distribution curves. Contrastingly, the numeric value refers to the lux requirements (or illumination intensity) for that particular light distribution curve. In other words, the higher the alphabetic and numeric value, the greater the lux intensity of that light fitting.

Some emergency exits may come with their own requirements surrounding light fitting classifications. For example, emergency exits like enclosed passageways with no natural light availability boast emergency lighting standards that require a minimum of 1 lux. On the other hand, open air evacuation points may possess more modest emergency light standards, opting instead for a combination of 0.5 lux lighting and reflective signage for directing evacuators in both daylight and evening low light conditions. 

The placement of emergency light fittings can also be determined by their lux intensity. If a single emergency light is bright enough that it’s visible from the end of a passageway, for instance, then it’s unlikely that you’ll need to install a secondary light to maintain compliance. If that emergency light isn’t visible, however, a secondary installation may be required. If in doubt, we recommend consulting with a commercial electrician that’s experienced with the installation of emergency light fittings.

emergency lighting standards

2.How often should your fittings be inspected?

By Australian Standards (AS/NZS 2293.2-1995), all emergency lighting and signage should be inspected at least once every 6 months. These inspections should include lamp flicker tests, swapping out any bulbs that are deemed defective or have surpassed their usable lifespan, and the conducting of a 90 minute electrical discharge test. This test involves an electrical technician powering off the battery charger for all emergency lighting in order to simulate a power outage for a period of 90 minutes.

Australian emergency lighting standards stipulate that lights should be able to retain illumination in the face of power outages, allowing building occupants to find their way out of buildings in the event of electrical grid failures, adverse weather, and other emergency situations that may result in your building’s power being cut. Therefore, emergency lighting systems are powered by an isolated battery off the main circuit. This places the  90 minute discharge test amongst the most essential safety measures for all Australian commercial and residential businesses. 

Alongside these 6-monthly inspections, emergency lighting standards also stipulate that light fittings and reflective surfaces are cleaned and generally maintained at least once every 12 months. This is to ensure that your emergency lighting systems and signage are clearly visible in all light conditions.

3.How to maintain compliance with Australian emergency lighting standards

As you can imagine, keeping a strict testing and maintenance schedule to ensure your emergency lighting stays in good working order, is integral to maintaining compliance with Australian emergency lighting standards. This is why enlisting the assistance of specialised lighting technicians and building safety professionals is a non-negotiable for all modern Australian building managers and business owners. 

Considering light classifications and lux intensity requirements for select settings is also crucial for maintaining regulatory compliance. Alongside this, building managers are required to develop at least two separate emergency evacuation routes for their building to be compliant. This is to ensure that traffic moves promptly and the building can be cleared with minimal disruption in the event of an emergency evacuation. 

The Final Word

As leading providers of fire protection services in Melbourne, Alexon is designed to be your first point of call for both the assurance of emergency lighting standard compliance as well as any and all other concerns you may have about your building’s fire and emergency systems. With impeccable, transparent processes, thorough inspection reporting, and only the most experienced and knowledgeable fire safety technicians on our team, you can be rest assured to receive the results you seek with each and every scheduled emergency lighting inspection, as well as all other services we offer here at Alexon.

Contact the Alexon team today via our website or call at 1300 001 004 to book your next emergency lighting inspection.

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