Imagine being in a movie theater and the power goes out it’s pitch black inside. You have to find the exit with no source of light or cell phone flashlight, it sounds impossible. But now imagine the power goes out in that same theater, but this time, there are exit signs and emergency lights that illuminate the egress path. Finding the exit is easy.

Exit and emergency lights are required and must be inspected on a regular basis. During a fire, these lights must be visible through smoke and must be seen by someone very low to the ground. When someone is crawling under smoke they need to be able to see the exit or emergency light.

You may think exit signs and emergency lights are the same thing, but they are two different kinds of fire protection. Exit Signs are the illuminated “EXIT” signs you often see over doors or in hallways with arrows. Their purpose is to show people where the exits are located. When they are not mounted over doorways, they will have arrows that point to the nearest exit.

Emergency lights are often two lights that are mounted to a white box. They are used to light the path to the exits and to illuminate the actual exit. They should be mounted along paths of egress, as well as in rooms that do not have windows, including internal rooms, large storage rooms, bathrooms and etc. To stay compliant, the bulbs should be pointed towards the walkway in order to allow for sufficient lighting. Emergency lights may either run on batteries or on a generator. Lights that run on generators may be tied into the building’s lighting circuit, which allows for certain lights within a building to stay on during an outage.

Emergency lights and exit signs should be inspected and tested monthly. During monthly testing, the light should be activated for 30 seconds to ensure that it is in good working order. They must also be inspected annually and during the annual inspection, the light must remain on for 60 minutes. If the bulbs are unable to remain lit during these tests, the batteries should be replaced.

Please note that if you lose power for an extended period of time, it is important to change the batteries in emergency and exit lights. If the batteries are not changed, they may not have enough power to run the lights when the power goes out again.

If you have any questions about this topic or you would like City Fire to come out and inspect your exit or emergency lights, please give us a call at 973-560-1600.