How often does emergency lighting need to be tested?


How often does emergency lighting need to be tested?

Emergency lighting is one of the features of a building that is generally not thought about, but it is vital it is working correctly and tested regularly.

What is emergency lighting?

Emergency lighting provides illumination if there is a power cut or a fire in a building.

Emergency lighting helps keep staff calm, makes it easier for them to find fire extinguishers and alarms and lets them evacuate the building safely.

It needs to light the escape route out of the building, as well as be positioned beside first aid points, firefighting equipment and any potential trip hazards.

It can also help the emergency services to access the building safely.

Emergency lights contain a small battery. The lights usually are connected to the building’s main power supply but when the power is down, the lights will run off the battery instead.

The type and amount of emergency lighting can vary from building to building, but it usually consists of:

  • LED exit signs
  • Bulkhead lights
  • Downlights
  • Floodlights

Emergency lighting is required by law in all publically accessible buildings. As the duty-holder of a building, it is critical to ensure your emergency lighting works correctly at all times.

In 2020, the operator of Aberdeen Market was fined £80,000. This was due to their failure to maintain the lighting in the fire escape stairwell. A member of the public was tragically found dead at the bottom of the stairwell two years prior.

How often should emergency lighting be tested?

Emergency lighting needs to be tested at regular intervals to ensure the batteries will work in an emergency situation.


This is often known as a flash test or a flick test.

Emergency lighting needs to be tested monthly, in line with BS EN 50172:2004 and BS 5266-8:2004. This test is carried out to ensure the light fittings work correctly.

More information about flash/flick tests


This is often known as a duration test or a discharge test.

This type of test looks at the condition of your lighting more thoroughly and involves fully discharging the batteries the lighting runs off to make sure there are no problems.

It needs to run for as long as your emergency lighting system lasts. So if your system is meant to give three hours of lights, the test must run for three hours.

This test checks the whole of your emergency lighting system at once. It needs to be carried out when there is a low risk of an emergency (e.g. when the building is empty), so the batteries can recharge safely.

The results of both tests must be recorded in your fire safety logbook. All issues must be resolved as soon as possible.

Let Hawkesworth look after your emergency lighting

Emergency lights need to be serviced by a ‘competent’ person with the appropriate skills and training.

Here at Hawkesworth, we are here to help carry out your emergency lighting testing and maintenance. We not only have a network of engineers across the country but can carry out testing out of hours and at weekends.

Contact us today for your free, no-obligation quote.

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