News and Information for Public Egress, Building Safety and Government Compliance
When testing your commercial emergency exit signs, there are two main components to check for full operation. Bulbs and batteries. These are the first things to review during scheduled maintenance tests. Fire code requires that all emergency lights and lighted exit signs be inspected at a monthly minimum.
Certain models will have two sets of bulbs that should be checked during these monthly tests. The first set runs on your 110 volt building power, and the second low voltage set comes on with a power failure. These low voltage bulbs are powered directly from the on board reserve battery. As a result, a sign that appears to be working may fail during a power outage because the low voltage bulbs have burned out.
Likewise, many defective batteries maintain just enough charge to light the bulbs for a few seconds after being triggered. If you don’t test reserve batteries for at least thirty seconds, you may find that the lights work each month only to find that they go out when you really need them. By testing the lights for at least thirty seconds you can make sure your batteries don’t just have a misleading surface charge.
Annual testing of emergency signage is also a standard code requirement. This involves running the lights under only emergency power for the full minimum of thirty minutes. Written records documenting the testing must be maintained and available for review by the fire inspector
To test your lights, use the small “push to test” button on the casing. Push and hold this button for thirty seconds to test the bulbs and battery. If the lights dim right away, or some of the bulbs don’t work it is time for some repair.
For a large facilities with many devices, or for the annual thirty-minute test find your circuit breaker or fuse that supplies your emergency lighting. Turn off your circuit breaker and observe that they’ve all lasted through the test period. If other equipment shares the same circuit be sure nothing will be damaged by the interruption.
If your lighting systems are powered by an emergency generator, this is an opportunity test all at once and guarantee your building is fully equipped to maintain safety during any potential outage.