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emergency hallway lights in 6-story buildingJun 13, 2020

I'm seeking a knowledgeable, professional answer, please:
What kind of energy source is required for the emergency hallway lights in the event that the electricity in the entire building shuts off? (approx. 50 apartments)
• Auxiliary generator of some kind?
• Batteries?

Also, whose responsibility is it to ensure that those lights are up-to-date, up-to-code, fully functional, etc.?
• the super?
• the building management?
• the FDNY?
• HPD?

Thanks so much!

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emergency hallway lights in 6-story building - Steven424 Jun 13, 2020

I am definitely not a professional but do have some knowledge on the subject, so please take my answer for what it's worth.

Most hallway and other common area emergency lights are self-contained units. They rely on an internal rechargeable battery (lead-acid, like a car battery). They are wired into the building's 110V A/C power so they are constantly being charged. If the power goes off and the unit no longer senses the 110V, it automatically kicks over to battery. I think units may be obtained with different guaranteed minimum run-times, but I am not sure of this.

I'm assuming you live in a co-op or condo, so as for who has overall responsibility for the proper selection, care, testing, and other maintenance, the co-op or condo board does. The board can and almost always will engage the super, managing agent, or third party contractor for the hands-on requirements. But if the FDNY does an inspection and finds emergency lighting deficiencies, the violation will be written up against the building's owner and it will be the board's responsibility to cure the defects.

I hope this helps,
--- Steve

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emergency hallway lights in 6-story building - DP Jun 14, 2020

Thank you Steve. That's helpful. Yes, a coop.

I may have misunderstood the intended purpose of the emergency back-up lights. I thought they were supposed to stay on, or at least be light-sensitive so they would come back on again after dark if the electricity was still off.

But a firefighter friend told me they were only supposed to be on at the beginning of the emergency (when the electricity cut off), e.g. to help people get out of the building. (But then what?) So they may have worked as they were supposed to, but it still seems dangerous to me.

Do you know anything about that, or where I can look for the info?

Thx.

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emergency hallway lights in 6-story building - DP - Steven424 Jun 17, 2020

Hi DP - As your firefighter friend explained, emergency lighting is used for emergency situations, such as helping to evacuate a burning building. It is not intended to be used for normal residential illumination. I'm guessing that people would not be allowed back into a building until the FD has certified it safe for occupancy. This would include appropriate lighting.

In the event only a part of the building was damaged and the rest could be legally occupied, it would be the responsibility of the building owner to make all repairs to damaged or destroyed common systems, such as electricity and lighting. I would surmise the FD would not allow re-entry until everything was back up to code.

Emergency lighting runs on battery, which has a limited rated illumination length. Once the battery is depleted, it would need to be recharged before being used again.

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emergency hallway lights in 6-story building - DP Jun 19, 2020

Thanks again, Steven.

It was an odd emergency (Con Ed failure which affected a few buildings)—one outside of the usual definitions and parameters. There was no damage to the building, and no one was required to leave. I guess this was just one of those events that buildings really aren't prepared to handle—especially in an economically challenged neighborhood where the thought of going to a hotel didn't even cross my mind... and in the middle of a pandemic where we're mostly sheltering in place.

All seems OK now. Con Ed had to replace cables going into the buildings.

Thanks again!

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