What happens when a building loses power? Are employees and tenants supposed to fumble in the dark and somehow try to find a way out?

Thankfully that’s not the case. Enter emergency lighting.

What is Emergency Lighting?

Safeopedia.com defines emergency lighting as:

“…battery-backed or otherwise independently powered light sources that are designed to activate when a power outage creates low-visibility conditions in a workplace.”  

Distinctly different from typical commercial lighting, emergency lighting is supposed to:

(a)  Switch on automatically when the regular power is interrupted;

(b)  Supply an average lighting level of not less than 10 lx all while;

(c)  Being independent of the main power source.

Furthermore, the lights need to be placed strategically to allow building occupants to safely evacuate the premises as efficiently as possible.

Hence, the provisions made by the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (SOR/86-304) which stipulate that emergency lighting must be installed in the following environments within buildings:

(a)  Exits and corridors;

(b)  Main routes leading to exit ways in open floor spaces and,

(c)  Floor areas where tenants generally work or meet.

The type of emergency lighting installed in buildings in Ontario is guided by the Ontario Building Code Act and the National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) 2020.

These two codes also dictate the maintenance schedules of the emergency lighting as well as testing requirements.

From a legal standpoint all buildings – industrial, institutional, high-rise residential, and commercial – are all required to have an emergency as well as exit path lighting. And it’s not just buildings alone that are mandated emergency lighting.

Emergency Lighting Regulations across Sectors

For those in marine transportation, in Part VII: 28 Supplementary Emergency Lighting, it is stated:

All passenger public spaces and alleyways shall be provided with supplementary electric lighting that can operate for at least three hours when all other electric power sources have failed. The illumination provided shall be such that the approach to the means of escape can be readily seen.”

Emergency lighting is also prescribed for railway passenger cars as seen in the Trains Occupational Safety and Health Regulations Part III: 26 which reads:

Every passenger car shall be equipped with an automatic battery supplied emergency lighting of sufficient capacity to enable quick evacuation, by providing a minimum of lighting in vestibule areas, at end doors, in the galley, washrooms and isle ways.”

The 5 Types of Emergency Lighting

Now here are five types of emergency lighting to know about and their unique role.

1. Anti-panic lighting

Also known as open area lighting, you’ll find this particular lighting system installed in lifts and stairways.

2. Emergency escape lighting

This lighting is required by the National Fire Code of Canada (NFC) 2020 as part of the fire safety regulation for buildings. Its main purpose is to assist occupants with sufficient light so they can evacuate a building when the main power goes out.

3. Emergency route lighting

This specific lighting is supposed to direct people to the closest exit so they can get out of the building.

4. High-risk task area

This lighting is installed in work areas where operators will require sufficient illumination in order to switch off any dangerous machinery or terminate high-risk processes before leaving the premises.

5. Standby lighting

This is a type of lighting that gives room for people to continue with their normal tasks when the power goes out.

How to Tell Whether You Have Sufficient Emergency Lighting

Knowing how much emergency lighting you need is complex. You have to factor in:

·         the size of the building

·         the nature of the building and its use

·         the layout of the building

·         the NFC, local Building Code and SOR/86-304 requirements

Without seeing your building and what’s currently installed it’s difficult to tell off-hand whether you have enough emergency lighting or not. The first step in answering this question then is having an expert come in to assess your building. That’s where fire safety technicians can help.  

Now, while emergency lighting is certainly important, there is yet another safety technology that people hardly speak about – carbon monoxide detectors. 

What are Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

Carbon monoxide detectors are safety devices that are engineered to detect the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) gas.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that’s exceedingly dangerous on account of its colourless, odourless and tasteless nature. It’s the agent responsible for carbon dioxide poisoning and has been called the “silent killer” because people cannot detect it before it’s too late.

CO detectors are made to measure the levels of carbon monoxide in the environment and alert building occupants via alarm before critical levels of the odourless chemical accumulate.

When the alarm sounds this gives people due warning giving them time to either leave the building or ventilate the space in order to disperse the CO.

It’s worth noting that CO detectors are not smoke detectors and should not be installed as such. It is possible however to find combined CO/smoke detectors.  

Why are Carbon Monoxide Detectors Important?

Firstly, did you know that more than 300 people die each year because of carbon monoxide poisoning?

There are in addition more than 200 CO-related hospitalizations annually across Canada.

The fact of the matter is that carbon monoxide detectors, much like smoke alarms, save lives and potentially reduce CO-related hospitalizations and fatalities. That’s why they are so important.

Looking for a Fire Safety Systems Contractor?

If you’re looking for a reliable fire safety contractor in Ontario look no further than Nutech Fire Prevention. Whether you wish to install or upgrade your existing emergency lighting or carbon monoxide detectors, we’re only one phone call away.

Plus, we also provide a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services for businesses in Hamilton, Ontario.

Request a free quote today.