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Emergency Lighting: What is a Flick and Duration Test?

Emergency lighting is a vital safety component, just like a fire alarm. It’s a legal requirement in compliance with Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Regular testing and maintenance of emergency lighting ensures that it is functional and can guide people safely out of a building during the event of an emergency, this is especially crucial in busy public buildings such as hospitals and airports. Flick and duration testing is a vital factor in emergency lighting compliance.

What is a flick test?

A flick test is an emergency lighting test, also sometimes referred to as a ‘flash’ test. A flick test is conducted by temporarily switching off the building’s power and checking whether emergency light fittings (also known as luminaires) remain illuminated or turn on. If the luminaires don’t turn on provide sufficient light, they need to be repaired or in some cases, replaced.


What is a duration test?

A duration test is when the batteries for emergency lights are fully drained, to test if emergency lighting would work in the event of an emergency, such as a fire or power cut. Also referred to as a ‘battery drainage’, ‘3 hour drain down’ or ‘discharge’ test, it can also help identify if there are any issues with drainage and highlight battery life or if any lighting elements may fail.


How does duration testing work?

A duration test is conducted by an engineer who will be responsible for monitoring emergency lighting as it drains, to ensure that emergency lighting stays on at the required level of brightness. Once the test is conducted, the results are documented in the building fire safety logbook. The power will then be turned on so that emergency lighting can recharge, this typically takes up to 24 hours. Any issues identified must be urgently repaired or replaced.

How often should emergency lighting be tested?

Ideally, flick and duration testing should be conducted when the building is empty. Although for premises which operate all the time, it is recommended that these tests are carried out when there is sufficient natural daylight available in the building, so that in the event of an emergency people can be guided to safety.

A flick test procedure should be conducted at least once a month, in line with regulation: BS EN 50172 and BS 5266-8, which is the code of practice for emergency lighting. The results of every flick test must be recorded in the fire safety logbook for the building it was tested in. A duration test must be conducted annually. If issues are present, they must be repaired or replaced urgently.

Ensure your emergency lighting is safe and compliant with BES

Why is a flick and duration test important?

It’s a legal requirement that emergency lighting must be carried out by law, in compliance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which means that emergency lighting must always be functional during an emergency, at a sufficient brightness.

Regular testing, inspection and maintenance of emergency lighting will help ensure it is functional during emergencies and prevent luminaire blackouts.

Therefore, flick and duration tests are extremely important, as they ensure safety lighting precautions are in place, in the event of an emergency. The purpose of emergency lighting is to help guide people to safety, by providing visibility lit escape routes. If this isn’t working adequately, people may become lost or trapped in darkness during an emergency, such as a fire or flood.


How long does emergency lighting stay illuminate for?

Emergency lighting typically lasts for around 3 hours, which is why a duration test is often referred to as a ‘3 hour drain down’. This is commonplace across busy public buildings such as town halls, schools and supermarkets, although this can vary across different buildings.

Take action with BES emergency lighting solutions

We can work with you to ensure the emergency lighting on your premises is safe and compliant. We can take care of everything from emergency lighting design, testing and repairs.

For new buildings or renovations, our bespoke emergency lighting design service can advise on where emergency lighting would be required in your building, based on a thorough risk assessment, followed by professional installation.

Our expert emergency lighting testing service can help plan and perform routine flick and duration tests, to identify any potential faults and help with taking corrective action.

Maintenance is crucial to ensure your emergency light fixtures don’t malfunction, we’re proud to prioritise safety by providing emergency lighting repair services.

Contact BES for all of your emergency lighting queries

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