emergency escape lighting  ?

In this article we explore the requirement to test lighting units and how to record this.


Emergency lighting is required in premises to enable occupants to escape safely in an emergency situation. BS 5266-1 states that a building must have adequate illumination to support escape and identify firefighting equipment (or any other fire safety equipment). 

In the UK, is a legal requirement under both Building Regulations and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, that all business premises including offices, factories, pubs and clubs, schools, hospitals and entertainment venues – including tents and marquees – are provided with emergency escape lighting. (Standby lighting which is designed to support ongoing activities in the event of a power failure is not a legal requirement).

Due to emergency light systems being so important in the process of protecting building occupants and highlighting escape routes and firefighting equipment, it is essential that emergency escape lighting is regularly tested and maintained to ensure that in the event of a failure of mains power, the lighting works correctly and escape routes are effectively illuminated (escape route lighting).This advice and guidance article provides advice on how often you should get your emergency lighting tested, and how to test your emergency lighting.


How often should emergency lighting be tested?

First and foremost, your emergency lighting must be tested by a competent person due to the important nature of the system in ensuring occupant safety in the event of an emergency.

The frequency in which you should get your emergency lighting tested can vary depending on system type (i.e. maintained emergency lighting or non-maintained), but as a general guide, you should aim to get your emergency lighting system tested monthly, additionally with ‘full duration' test as described in BS 5266-1 annually.

The monthly emergency lighting tests, also known as the ‘flick tests', are a short functional test simulating failure of the mains power supply which ensures the lamp switches on and illuminates correctly. Luminaires should be free from damage and clean. The test should be done using the secure device key, commonly called a fish key due to its shape. The fish key should be used rather than switching off the mains lighting power, which may be hazardous to other occupants. A record of all monthly tests must be kept, including any faults which should be reported to the responsible person to ensure that appropriate remedial action can be taken.

For the annual test, the requirements for emergency lighting are to test for a duration of three hours. When doing so, the primary lighting circuit must be switched off and emergency lights left on for three hours in line with BS 5266-1. All luminaires should remain lit throughout this period. Any defects should be reported and remediated as soon as possible. A competent person should carry out these annual emergency lighting tests and undertake any remedial work needed as a result. These tests may be performed by technicians during a fire alarm service, as this can be done while waiting for the lamps to complete the duration of test.

How to test emergency lighting?

Emergency lighting testing requirements stipulate that emergency lighting must be maintained and regularly tested in the same way as other emergency equipment. Each light should be identified and have a location identity for recordkeeping. A record log can then be kept of the system test, defects, any damage to the system, and remedial action relating to each light.

When carrying out an emergency lighting test, a mains power failure (power cut) on the normal lighting circuit/circuits or individual luminaries must be simulated. In a system with a single switch for the entirety of the building or a large circuit, it is important for the responsible person to walk the entirety of the building or circuit to check that all the lights are working correctly and that there are no signs of damage to the light fitting. After restoring the power supply, it may be helpful for the circuit or building to be checked again to ensure there are no faults and that the emergency lights are fully charging. This would ideally be done before or after working hours to minimise disruption.

Areas in which there is moving machinery or vehicles, flammable materials or control rooms associated with potentially dangerous processes have, as ‘high risk task areas', slightly different requirements in relation to emergency lighting – particularly in relation to the illuminance levels to be maintained and duration of operation. High risk task area lighting is provided predominantly to ensure that processes can be safely terminated, and occupants make their evacuation from the area without undue risk from the process.

Failure of the normal lighting does not necessarily mean that the hazard no longer exists. A hazard may continue long after failure of the normal lighting supply. In such circumstances, high risk task lighting will be required and designed in such a way to ensure illumination is maintained as long as the local hazard continues to exist. 

At Wyvern Risk Management, we are able to provide access to trusted independent professionals who have comprehensive understanding of systems, legislation, and standards including BS 5266-1 and BS 5839, and can carrying out installation, commissioning, and maintenance of systems. 

If you need any further advice please give us a call 0800 593 0916 or use the contact form below. 

(credited to the FPA)





If you are looking for experienced quality compliance to protect your business and reputation, contact us today at Wyvern Risk Management

 0800 593 0916

Contact Us    



©Wyvern Risk Management Limited 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Registered Company in England & Wales

Registration no 10368490

Fire Risk Assessor in Bristol and Bath Get In Touch - 0800 593 0916




Our Company

Fire Risk Assessor in Bristol and Bath


 Fire Risk Assessor in Bristol and Bath