Per the Alberta Fire Code 2014, Emergency Lighting equipment must be regularly inspected and tested. The Alberta Building Code 2014 and the Operational Health and Safety Code 2009 define what equipment must be present. While the ABC will vary with the edition of the code in force when building was constructed or last updated, the OH&S code applies to any work site in the province.
There are two good rules of thumb to satisfy the requirements for most general small and medium businesses:
- Mark your exits with an illuminated backlit exit sign.
- Provide an illuminated path of egress in the event of a power failure.
A visual inspection and functional test should be performed once a month on emergency lighting battery packs. The purpose is to verify that the unit appears to be undamaged, and turns on when the test switch is activated or the breaker is switched off. This inspection should be documented, but can easily be performed by the owner or tenant.
Monthly inspections are available as a recurring service on request. Minimum charges apply, and service is handled on an at-our-convenience basis.
Once a year all emergency lighting devices must be inspected and tested for both functionality and run-time duration. The duration of this test will vary with occupancy type, but for most businesses will be 30 min. This testing must be properly documented, and any failures addressed.
what to expect
Technicians can perform inspections mostly independently unless the client requires escort. Access will be required anywhere an emergency lighting device is present. The inspection generally will not interfere with operations. Technicians can only check what they know is present, so the client should be prepared to provide a list, or go over our report with the technician afterward to determine if any units were missed.
Emergency lighting devices are required by code to have dedicated circuit breakers, which should be marked in the electrical panel. This is frequently not the case. When the devices are tied into other circuits, and if those breakers cannot be turned off due to other equipment on that circuit, the technician will need to access each battery pack device and manually activate it using the test switch. This will normally require carrying a ladder to each pack.
Occasionally packs will be located too high to safely reach with a normal sized step ladder. In this case the device must be tested by breaker, and if the breaker is not marked, or not dedicated the client will need to make arrangements for other equipment to be without power during testing. Special access arrangements would need to be made in the event of a device failure.
There are a few items the client must do to prepare for an inspection
- Access - Technicians will need access to all parts of the building that contain emergency lighting devices. This normally does not include individual offices, but will include washrooms and changerooms, stockrooms, archives, boardrooms, cashrooms, mechanical/electrical rooms, and other areas not normally open to all members of staff or the public. Make arrangements to provide technicians with keys or escort as necessary
- Mark Breakers - check your electrical panels and determine if breakers for emergency lighting and exit signs are marked. If not, then try to identify them by sequentially flipping breakers outside of normal operating hours when business will not be affected. Record the breakers, and any other equipment that is on the same circuit.
- List or walk-through - we can only inspect what we know is there. If you have a list of emergency lighting devices make sure there is a copy ready for our technician when they arrive. If you don't then be prepared to spend some time going over the list our technician generates during their walk-through, and point out any that were missed. Emergency & Exit Lighting inspections are billed per-device, if you want an estimate for what an inspection will cost you should have a device count handy. Here is what the most common device types look like:
something is wrong, what should I do?
If in the course of your monthly inspection you find a device that is not working, give us a call. In most cases all that is needed is a replacement battery which we can provide and you can change yourself. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, we can schedule a service call for a technician to come out and diagnose the device, and repair as needed.