Emergency Illumination in Mechanical Rooms

Q: Is emergency lighting required for mechanical rooms?

A: The answer depends on whether the mechanical room has a designated aisle, the occupancy classification of the building, and whether it is an underground or widow-less structure. According to section 7.8 of the 2012 Life Safety Code the means of egress is required to be illuminated in the following locations in any occupancy:

  • Designated stairs
  • Designated aisles
  • Designated corridors
  • Designated ramps
  • Passageways leading to an exit.

As far as a mechanical room is concerned, if the room is large enough that there would be a designated aisle in the room, then it would require illumination.

But does the illumination in the mechanical room need to be connected to emergency power? According to section 7.9, emergency illumination room is dependent upon any one of the following:

  • If required by the occupancy chapter;
  • If the building is an underground or windowless structure;
  • If the building is a high-rise building;
  • At doors equipped with delayed egress locks;

Healthcare occupancies and ambulatory healthcare occupancies do require emergency illumination (see 18/19/20/, but business occupancies only require emergency illumination if the building is two or more stories in height above the level of exit discharge; if the occupancy is subject to 100 or more persons above or below the level of exit discharge; and if the occupancy is subject to 1,000 or more persons.

If the mechanical room is located inside a healthcare occupancy, then it would have to be connected to a Type 1 essential electrical emergency power system, which means the emergency illumination must be provided by onsite generators.

So, it depends where the mechanical room is located. But if it is located inside a hospital, and the mechanical room is large enough to have an aisle, then yes, emergency illumination would be required.