Exit signs and emergency lights are an important part of any commercial building’s safety system, guiding occupants outside to safety in case of fire. When the power goes out and buildings fill with smoke which can happen quickly, these lighted signs are critical to saving lives through safe evacuation. Commercial building owners must test their exit signs and emergency lighting regularly to ensure that they will work properly when needed.
Exit Lights and Emergency Lights, What’s the Difference?
Exit signs – Exit signs are the illuminated signs that say “EXIT” in big red letters over doorways. They are always illuminated and typically have two sets of bulbs. One set of bulbs is always on and operates from the building’s power supply while the second set comes on only when there is a power outage and operates on battery only.
This is why exit signs must be tested regularly. If the power goes out and the bulbs on battery backup are burned out they will not illuminate in case of emergency.
Emergency lights – Emergency lighting are simple lighting devices that illuminate only when the power goes out, to guide occupants toward the exits. Emergency lighting is connected to the buildings power supply which continually charges the battery in the lights. In the event of a power outage, the fixture circuitry activates the emergency lights to illuminate an exit path. Emergency lighting is required to operate for 90 minutes on battery power.
Testing of both exit signs and emergency lighting is an important part of fire alarm inspections and regular safety checks.
Testing of Exit Signs and Emergency Lighting
Monthly – According to the National Fire Protection Association’s guidelines in NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, exit signs and emergency lighting should be tested every month internally by maintenance staff, a safety person or contractor assigned to the task.
Annually – Annual tests are also required and must be performed by a fire alarm and life safety professional. The annual test is more involved than the monthly tests and lights should be tested for the full 90 minutes that they are supposed to remain lit in case of emergency.
Most exit signs and emergency lights have a small button that can be pushed to test the device. Pushing in the button and holding for 30 seconds tests the battery and the bulbs. Testing should ensure that the lights come on and stay on at the same brightness level for the full 30 seconds. If they dim quickly or some of the bulbs do not light up, building owners should contact their electrician right away for repairs.
Written records of each test should be documented and available for review by the fire inspector. Building owners should also ensure that all exit signs are visible and not obstructed from view and that emergency lighting is placed in all the proper locations, rooms, and hallways.
Professional Emergency Lighting Testing
Commercial property owners in the Chicago, IL area can rely on High Rise Security Systems for professional testing of emergency lighting and all fire alarm system equipment. HRSS provides commercial fire and life safety services to businesses of all types in the Chicago area with highly trained and certified professionals. We perform fire alarm inspections and testing along with full service fire and life safety consulting.
HRSS is a leading fire and life safety security provider to commercial properties in and around Chicago. We offer decades of experience, highly trained professionals and deep technical knowledge of all building and safety code regulations. Contact us to learn more about servicing your fire alarm system including testing of all emergency, and exit lighting.