Do you need a risk assessment of your emergency lighting plan?

Emergency lighting, safety standards and your building are evolving at the same time. Thomas Doss, National Service Line Manager, Electrical, shares his insights.

As National Service Line Manager for Grosvenor Engineering Group’s (Grosvenor) Electrical division, Thomas oversees the growth, delivery, consistency, tech support and compliance of the Grosvenor electrical division nationally. His team completes the design, installation, routine maintenance and repairs of these critical exit and emergency lighting installations for thousands of commercial, industrial, retail and critical infrastructure clients nationwide – helping them meet and remain compliant with the latest standards.

Setting the standard

AS 2293 covers the system design, installation and operation, and routine service and maintenance of emergency lighting and exit signs for buildings. Best practice is to ensure your system is installed fully to the requirements of AS 2293, and has been certified with an installation certificate relevant to the applicable state requirements. Furthermore, ensure all areas of your building have been covered by emergency and exit lights. All installations are required to be maintained by an appropriately licensed contractor every six months.

There are two common mistakes Thomas has seen. The first is not ensuring the system is installed to meet the Standard or design, and thus fails to meet its core function of facilitating the safe evacuation of occupants. Second, building, fitout and alteration works can change the design requirements of the building, and run the risk of causing non-compliance with AS 2293 or performance solutions in place as part of the design.

Other errors can stem from a lack of baseline data. Without access to design data or installation certificates, it is more difficult for the contractor engaged to provide annual sign-off on the installation. Another common mistake is the installation of different brands of fittings on-site, as different fittings may not take into account the distance ratings of the existing fittings necessary to ensure the different brands meet the original design intent of the system. Keep this in mind when putting new systems in place or carrying out changes or updates in existing fitouts.

Expertise

Getting a risk assessment of exit and emergency lighting is the most important thing. Completing a risk analysis helps ensure you’re fully compliant with the Standards and the National Construction Code (NCC), and also ensures you are being fully maintained as per the requirements of the associated regulations, such as the Building Fire and Safety Regulation and relevant state-based codes, for example Queensland’s QDC MP6.1.

A risk analysis inspects and reviews the following:

  • installation compliance to AS 2293 and the NCC
  • confirmation of baseline data
  • confirmation of maintenance has been conducted as per AS 2293 requirements
  • confirmation of annual certification being available on-site
  • provision of a detailed report with any deficiencies or recommendations for improvement, and
  • provision of recommendations for any improvements or upgrades to the system.

A risk analysis will also help ensure your emergency and exit lighting system has annual certification available via annual certificate and state-based equivalent maintenance declarations, such as the Occupier’s statement, Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS) and Essential Safety Measures Report (ESMR).

As an additional benefit, it should allow for assessment of the integrity of the system, uncovering insights that help reduce operation and maintenance costs – by working towards a full LED installation.

Emergency lighting in carpark

The LED advantage

The LED technology available today results in reduced running and maintenance costs associated with lamp changes, which are no longer required, thus reducing disruption to the installation upon maintenance.

LEDs will also mean lower energy consumption for your emergency and exit lighting, as they draw less power and emit less carbon dioxide (CO2) than the traditional fluorescent, halogen or cold cathode lamp types. Other benefits are a reduction of consumable parts to be replaced – by removing the need to replace lamps and starters, and the increased life cycle of the fittings.

Rolling it all together

By utilising a centrally monitored system and integration of the test stations into the lighting automation control and BMS systems, FMs can ensure their emergency and exit lighting strategies fit into their integrated building management strategy. There are a number of product ranges available, so getting expert assistance is the best way to avoid the pitfalls.