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Published on January 1, 2020.

Reader Feedback


The importance of the 90-minute 
battery load test for exit signs

To the editor:

I read with interest your recent “Perspectives” interview on dynamic emergency exit signage (“Exiting Smarter,” November/December). It is great to see that NFPA is thinking outside the box and that there is likely to be new annex material on dynamic exit signage in the next edition of NFPA 101®, Life Safety Code®.

The article was thought provoking, and it made me think about the problems in the field regarding exit lighting and emergency lighting with battery backup. This might be a good time to remind building owners and fire inspectors of the need to make sure the annual 90-minute battery load test is being conducted.

Although there is a monthly 30-second test that is required, it is not a substitute for the battery load test. That test is designed to identify the need for replacing burned out lamps, dead batteries, and other deficiencies that leave the unit inoperable. The 90-minute test checks long-term functionality of the battery, based on the need for required illumination for an hour and a half. Any battery that doesn’t meet that criterion must be replaced. Your local fire equipment distributor will likely have technicians who are trained and qualified to conduct these tests to the NFPA 101 criteria.

Power outages occur frequently due to weather, natural and manmade disasters, and as a result of our aging infrastructure. And when a power outage occurs, we expect the exit signs to remain illuminated and the emergency lighting to come on and illuminate the egress path. I encourage building owners and managers to schedule testing for 2020 now and for authorities having jurisdiction to look for documentation that the 90-minute test was conducted during building inspections. A cooperative effort will help ensure that we are able find the exits and see our way out of buildings during a power outage.

Brooks Equipment Company,
Charlotte, NC
The author is a principal member
of two NFPA technical committees
and an alternate member on a
third technical committee.