In an emergency situation, having adequate emergency lighting can be the difference between life and death. For example, a fire or a flood could easily cause a mains failure resulting in loss of normal illumination. Without adequate emergency lighting it may be difficult for occupants of the building to find a safe exit route which could ultimately lead to loss of life.
A university campus presents an environment with many and varied risks; for example, kitchens, science labs, sports facilities, lecture theatres and student accommodation, and so in the first instance it is important to ensure that risk assessments are carried out to identify and manage potential hazards appropriately. On top of this, universities hold an extremely large number of staff and students who would need to be evacuated safely and efficiently in case of an emergency, therefore having well-managed emergency evacuation systems and procedures is essential for ensuring the safety of all occupants.
For example; in October last year, a fire broke out in Bristol University’s student accommodation in Colston Street. The fire quickly spread throughout the block of flats and the local Fire Station Manager said that it was both the presence of fire alarms and a well-managed fire evacuation plan that allowed the 120 students to evacuate safely that day (Bristol Post, 2015).
Universities have a duty of care towards their staff and students and a legal obligation to ensure that life safety systems remain compliant with legislation. The British Standard for Emergency Lighting, BS5266, should be used as a guide for installing and maintaining emergency lighting systems to ensure compliance with legal requirements. For Universities in England and Wales, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is also applicable and article 14 states that ‘emergency routes and exits requiring illumination must be provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of their normal lighting’. Universities in Scotland should refer to the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Failure to comply with legislation could lead to prosecution.
This article was written by Hochiki Europe; a leader in fire detection and emergency lighting systems. For product information, or to request a copy of Hochiki’s BS 5266 pocket guide, please visit www.hochikieurope.com. Alternatively, please visit Hochiki on their exhibition stand at the USHA Fire Group Seminar between 7th and 8th June.