Understanding Fire Signage

A Guide to Understanding & Interpreting Life-Saving Information

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The chances are you’re familiar with a whole host of fire safety signs. Fire exit, extinguisher and alarm signs are common in a whole host of day-to-day environments, including in supermarkets, clothing stores, cinemas and more.

And if you run, own or manage a business or commercial organisation, fire signage should play a crucial role in your commercial fire safety procedures.  

Not only can they help direct people to evacuation routes during an emergency, but they can also offer guidance on what to do, point occupants towards fire fighting equipment and warn people of fire hazards.

In this article, the team here at KW Fire Protection will outline the various fire signage categories to help you fully understand the different types, as well as provide you with information regarding your legal obligations when it comes to safety signs.   

Safety signs

Safety signs are used to indicate a wide range of safety-related information, including fire exits, escape routes, first aid kits and more. These signs are identifiable by a green rectangle or square that contains text or pictures. 

Fire exit safety signs are sometimes illuminated to ensure they’re visible to people when they need them most. 

Sometimes, it’s common to see safety signs used incorrectly. For instance, fire exit signs are often used on the exterior of fire doors when blue ‘Keep Clear’ signs should be used instead.   

Prohibition signs 

These signs are used to warn people of dangerous activities that could result in a fire. The most recognisable prohibition sign is the ‘No Smoking’ sign which prohibits people from smoking in a specific area due to the fire risk they pose.

Prohibition signs are displayed by a red circle with a red diagonal line across it. There will also be a black picture of the activity that is prohibited. 

Warning signs 

Warning people of the presence of fire hazards and dangerous substances is a fundamental aspect of commercial fire safety. If people are aware of a hazard, they’re likely to be more cautious with their activities and behaviour surrounding it. 

These signs are yellow triangles with a black border and black pictures or text inside. 

Fire equipment signs 

It’s also important to indicate to people on your premises where the necessary fire equipment is located. Swiftly alerting occupants to the presence of a fire is the safest way to protect people and property, and clear signs indicating where fire fighting equipment is kept can help extinguish it quickly before it can cause severe destruction to your premises. 

Fire equipment signs are marked by a red square or rectangle with pictures and/or text inside. The most common type of fire equipment signs are to indicate fire alarms and fire extinguishers.    

Mandatory signs 

A mandatory sign is a piece of fire signage that indicates an action that you must take. For example, ‘Fire Door Keep Shut’ informs people that fire doors must be closed at all times. 

Mandatory signs are blue circles with either a white picture or white text inside. 

What are your legal obligations?

All of the fire signage we’ve discussed are important parts of your overall commercial fire safety responsibilities. The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 states that: ‘employers must have the relevant fire safety signs in place where there is a risk or hazard that has not been avoided or controlled by other means.’ 

As well as this, they must be kept in good condition so people on the premises can clearly read and understand them. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that your organisation’s ‘responsible person’ must ensure fire signage is ‘well maintained with any faded or defective signs being replaced’.

There are also specific size, shape and colour requirements for fire safety signs that must be adhered to. The team here at KW Fire Protection can assist to ensure all you’re meeting all of your legal obligations.

Our team can provide your organisation with fire signage services that keep your premises protected and ensure it meets its legal responsibilities. We also offer a wide range of other commercial fire safety services and products, including fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire risk assessments and much more.  Contact us today for more details. You can call us or use our quick quote form and a member of our team will respond promptly.


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