Emergency Lighting for Your Building

Aug 20, 2021

Emergency lighting is a requirement for your building to ensure safety when things go wrong. If there’s a fire, a utility outage, or a power failure, there are state and federal regulations, fire codes, insurance policies, and even Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards in place that all require functioning emergency lights. 

Learn more about some of the regulations and requirements for emergency lighting that are required for your business and the lighting choices that best accommodate your needs.

Emergency Lighting for Buildings


Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting, often referred to as egress or exit lighting, is designed to illuminate hallways, stairwells, and exits to ensure a safe and orderly evacuation. Emergency lighting is required for all commercial, industrial, educational, religious, institutional, public housing, and medical facilities. For specific questions on your state or city’s requirements for emergency lighting, check with your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code states that when emergency illumination is required, it must be provided for a minimum of 1.5 hours in the event of normal lighting failure. The maximum illumination at any point can be no more than 40 times the minimum illumination at any other point to prevent excessively bright or dark spots.

Exit Signs

The NFPA has more requirements surrounding exit signs. Exit signs must be illuminated, have the word “Exit” and be in a color distinctive from the background. No decorations, furnishings, or equipment that impairs visibility of a sign shall be permitted. No brightly illuminated signs (for other than exit purposes), displays, or objects are permitted in or near the line of vision of the required exit sign that could distract attention from the exit sign. Exit signs must also be placed with directional indicators in every location where the nearest exit is not readily visible.

Codes for Exit Lighting

There are many different codes that regulate emergency exits and their lighting. Keep in mind that there may be some differences in state and city regulations — it’s worth checking in with your authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to ensure that all of your lighting fixtures are up to code.

  • 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.34 (c):  This code defines an “exit route” as “a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety (including refuge areas.)”
  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code:  This code is the standard source to protect people in regard to building construction and protection, minimizing the effects of fire and related hazards.  It covers both new and existing features.
  • International Building Code:  This code states that exit lighting must be active whenever the building is occupied.  Exit lighting is required for all occupancies, with limited exceptions for agricultural and livestock buildings and dwelling units.

Safe & Reliable

Be sure that you are purchasing exit signs and emergency lighting for your business with these code standards in mind. In order for them to be safe as emergency exit signs, they must be reliable, and illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles (54 lux). They must be legible in both normal and emergency exit lighting modes. Similarly, emergency lighting must be arranged to provide illumination of no less than one foot-candle (10.8 lux) along the exit path at foot level.

TCP Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting and their regulations can be complicated — at TCP, we have a variety of emergency lighting products that are up to all required regulations. If you have questions or concerns regarding how you need to implement emergency lighting in your buildings, contact us today. We’ll work with you to find the best solution and price for your business. 

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