Article and photos by Gregory Havel
Building and fire codes require the installation of light fixtures that will function during electric power failure (emergency lighting). These codes also require illuminated signs directing building occupants toward the building’s exits (exit lights) and a secondary source of power in case of electric power failure. They will be checked by the building or fire inspector before an occupancy permit is issued in a new or remodeled building. The building contractor will leave the maintenance and testing instructions from the exit and emergency lighting manufacturer with the owner, who often files them without reading them. Photo 1 shows a fixture that combines a self-illuminated exit sign and an emergency lighting fixture.
Photo 2 shows the fixture in photo 1, with the “Exit” sign removed from the front to expose its components:
- A is the “Exit” sign that has been removed from the front of the fixture.
- B is an emergency light.
- C is the electrical transformer that reduces the voltage of the building system to match the voltage used by the lights and battery charger.
- D is the rechargeable lead-acid gel-cell battery.
- E is the test button and LED function indicator.
- F is the battery charger and the circuit board that transfers the fixture to battery power when building system power fails
- G is an array of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that illuminate the translucent “EXIT” sign
If the replacement battery does not put the fixture back in service, a qualified person or contractor will be needed to troubleshoot and make repairs or replace the fixture.
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Gregory Havel is a member of the Town of Burlington (WI) Fire Department; a retired deputy chief and training officer; and a 30-year veteran of the fire service. He is a Wisconsin-certified fire instructor II and fire officer II, an adjunct instructor in fire service programs at Gateway Technical College, and safety director for Scherrer Construction Co., Inc. Havel has a bachelor’s degree from St. Norbert College; has more than 30 years of experience in facilities management and building construction; and has presented classes at FDIC.