Emergency Preparedness and Response

In every business and premise owners (including landlords) there is a legal obligation to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. As part of this regulation you are meant to have an up to date fire risk assessment which has been written by a competent person and any actions identified to reduce the risk from fire implemented.

As part of the fire risk assessment, there should be reference to Means of Escape and emergency provisions including the availability of firefighting equipment such as extinguishers, sprinkler systems etc. Additionally there should be sufficient emergency lighting in place to illuminate walkways and stairwells to an emergency exit.

Emergency lighting can be as basic as a torch placed in a known place and regularly checked to ensure it operates correctly to a full emergency lighting system that is connected to the mains electricity supply.

During my regular visits to different businesses it always surprises me how little is known by business on the necessary controls and checks required surrounding emergency lights and fire controls in general.

So here is some information I hope you may find useful.

Emergency lighting including illuminated emergency signs should be regularly tested to check it functions correctly and is maintained to a suitable level (BS 5266 refers).  Typically testing will include the following:-

Monthly ‘flick’ test to ensure the light comes on when power is cut. This can be done by any competent person and requires a ‘fish tailed’ key specifically for this purpose (normally issued by the companies who fit emergency lighting) inserted into a specific switch allowing the luminaries to be checked for function. The test is quick and easy and ensures the light will operate when needed. Records of the test should be recorded. Any failures should be repaired as soon as possible. 

Annually Each luminaire and internally illuminated sign shall be tested as per the monthly check as above to its full rated duration in accordance with the manufacturer’s information. Generally, this is either 1 or 3 hours.

The luminaires should provide sufficient light for the duration of the test i.e. 1 or 3 hours depending on the manufacturers information.

Lighting units that fail to illuminate clearly or brightly have blackened bulbs or tubes etc or does not maintain luminance for the required length of time, should repaired as soon as possible

Following the test the supply of the normal lighting shall be restored and any indicator lamp or device checked to ensure that it is showing that normal supply has been restored. The charging arrangements should be checked for proper functioning.

Records of the test should be recorded. Any failures should be repaired as soon as possible.

Fire extinguishers

There are generally 6 types of fire extinguisher these are Water, Spray Foam, Wet Chemical, Dry Powder, Vaporising Liquids and Carbon Dioxide.

Depending on the type of fire likely to occur a suitable fire extinguisher (s) should be allocated to the area accordingly.

All extinguishers should be inspected and maintained in accordance with BS 5306 Part 3: 2009

Typically extinguishers should always be sited

  • On the line of escape routes
  • Near, but not too near , to the danger points
  • Near, to room exits inside or outside according to occupancy and/or risk
  • In multi-story buildings at same position on each floor, ie top of stair flights or at corners in corridors
  • Where possible in groups forming fire points
  • Where possible in shallow recesses, if sited on walls
  • So that no person needs to travel 30 meters to reach an extinguisher
  • With carrying handles about 1 meter from the floor to facilitate ease of handling and removal from wall bracket, or on purpose designed floor stands.
  • Away from excess heat / cold.


Monthly Inspections – Checks should include

  •  Located in proper place
  • If discharged
  • Correct pressure
  • Any obvious damage.


Annual Inspections –

A more thorough inspection of extinguishers, spare gas cartridges and replacement charges should be carried out by a competent person on an annual basis. This may include internal and external inspection dependent upon the type of extinguisher.

Test by discharge – Extinguishers should be discharged at intervals detailed below. The time period should be taken from the date of manufacture or the last test.

Extinguisher TypeInterval of discharge
Water (stored pressure)Every 5 years
Foam (all types)Every 5 years
Water (gas cartridge)Every 5 years
Powder (gas cartridge)Every 5 years
Powder (stored pressure valve operated)Every 5 years
Carbon Dioxide (all types)Every 10 years


For further information on Fire controls contact Andy Adams at Quality Systems Consultancy on 01889 881887