If you’ve recently been told that you need regular emergency light maintenance, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, the emergency lights in your building are hardly getting used, aren’t they? Actually, the emergency lights in your building might actually be on all the time!

When is emergency lighting used? Well, there are some types of emergency lighting systems that are used in specific situations, and others that are always lit.  Check out the following scenarios where the emergency luminaires might be activated in your building, and get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Power Outage

When is emergency lighting used? The most common and obvious answer to this question is during a power outage. Most buildings are fitted out with emergency lights that are hardwired to the mains power supply. This type of lighting may be in use at all times of the day, or activated during an outage – this depends on whether your system is maintained or non-maintained, but we’ll talk more about this later.

When a failure in the mains power supply is detected, the emergency system activates and is powered by battery power. During a power outage in a large building, it is important for people to remain calm and navigate to an exit. This is where emergency lighting is essential.


During a fire, people need to be able to exit the building as quickly (and as orderly) as possible. People will look to emergency exit lights (or signs) to see where the nearest exit is. If the power has been compromised because of a fire, the emergency system will kick in so that occupants can easily navigate towards an exit.

You can make the most of your lighting system by making sure staff are aware of the emergency exit routes and evacuation meeting points. With functional fire exit lights, you can take control during a fire and minimise risk for the occupants of the building.

Emergency Evacuation

When is emergency lighting used? Well, we’ve briefly touched on two emergency scenarios where lighting is essential. The truth is, emergency lighting is invaluable in an emergency situation where an evacuation is required.

This might be because of a physical threat, (like a bomb or a threatening person) hazardous substances, and natural disasters. In any case, a clear exit path is essential.

Maintained Emergency Lighting

As we mentioned earlier, there are two types of emergency lighting systems: maintained and non-maintained. Maintained emergency lighting is always in use. It is always on and is illuminated through the mains power. When the power failures, the battery system kicks in and the lights continue to shine.

You can find this kind of emergency escape lighting in a range of public spaces including theatres, cinemas, hospitals, recreational/sporting centres, schools, universities, train stations, and more! Maintained emergency lighting is a popular choice for large public spaces where evacuations may be necessary.

You can read more about the difference between maintained and non-maintained emergency lighting here.

Emergency Light Inspections

Now that you know the answer to your question – “when is emergency lighting used?” – you can understand the importance of regular maintenance. In order to work effectively during an evacuation, emergency lights need to be tested and maintained regularly.

A 6 monthly inspection is the prescribed period for 99% of business premises.

At Jim’s Fire Safety, we test and inspect lights according to the AS 2293.2 standard. If you’re a building owner, you need to make sure your lighting systems are installed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia. If you have any questions about emergency or exit lighting, contact us now. Browse through the rest of our website for a comprehensive range of fire safety services.

Call now on 131 546 or fill in the online form for a FREE QUOTE.