Emergency lighting, including exit signage, requires a 30-second test every month and an additional 90-minute test every year to make sure the system will work in an emergency. Many facilities managers put off the testing because 30 seconds per exit sign and emergency lighting fixture adds up quickly.
But delaying the required testing means risking steep fines if you’re caught—or a matter of life or death if someone is trying to escape your building during an emergency.
New developments in connected lighting are impacting the way life safety systems are tested and maintained, according to Neil Egan, director of communications with Acuity Brands.
“Imagine how valuable it would be if the system communicated to you ‘I’m not operating,’ and then you knew exactly where to send your repair person instead of going around, pushing a button, waiting for the signal and then moving on to every other [emergency light or exit sign],” says Egan. “You have to be pretty strict on a schedule to do that per code every 30 days.”
Life safety systems already contain a lighting component, so applying connected lighting technology to them is a logical next step. Egan predicts that networked life safety equipment will be able to test itself and communicate its status back to a central dashboard.
“You can hit the button on your laptop, all of them get tested at one time, and the exit sign communicates back and says ‘I’m not working’ or ‘I’ve got a busted part’ and tells you where,” says Egan. “Imagine if you’re Walmart and you’ve got 25 exit signs… [or] if you own a campus with multiple buildings or manage a university.”
[On topic: Fire Protection Systems 101]
A sophisticated testing mechanism like this would make it exponentially easier to comply with code and could also serve as a recruiting tool for tenants, Egan says.
A connected life safety system and a facilities manager who’s consistently improving the building’s safety and security measures can be a selling point for a tenant who places a high priority on keeping employees safe, happy and healthy.
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