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How to Properly Add Signage To Your Fire Equipment for Quick Response

Ensuring the safety of a building’s occupants is paramount. As a safety officer or facility manager, your role includes guaranteeing that fire equipment is correctly signposted to allow for swift response in an emergency.

This blog post outlines six critical aspects of implementing effective fire equipment signs.

Understanding Fire Equipment Signs

Fire equipment signs are vital navigational aids during emergencies, guiding individuals to the necessary equipment swiftly and efficiently. These signs are not merely decorative but crucial to a building’s safety infrastructure.

Recognising Symbols

Symbols on fire equipment signs are designed to be easily identifiable. They highlight the location and type of equipment available, ensuring that even in high-stress situations, individuals can quickly understand where to go and what to do.

  • Fire Extinguishers: The symbol for fire extinguishers usually consists of a simple yet distinct icon of an extinguisher. This universally recognised symbol is crucial for quick identification and response. For enhanced visibility, consider using a Fire Extinguisher Projecting Sign.
  • Fire Hoses: The fire hose symbol typically features a hose reel, making it instantly recognisable. This symbol is essential for guiding individuals to the hose in a fire emergency. A Fire Hose Reel Projecting Sign can make this equipment even more noticeable.
  • Fire Alarm Call Points: The fire alarm call points symbol is usually a hand pressing a button, indicating where the alarm can be activated. Quick identification of this symbol can be crucial in alerting the building’s occupants. Use a Fire Alarm Call Point Projecting Sign for better visibility.
  • Fire Escape Routes: The fire escape route symbol often features a running figure and an exit door, guiding individuals towards the safest exit path. This symbol is vital for ensuring a smooth evacuation process.

Colour Coding

The appropriate use of colours is crucial in creating noticeable and effective fire equipment signs. Colours attract attention and convey specific meanings that can aid in quick decision-making during emergencies.

  • Red Backgrounds: A red background is commonly used for fire equipment signs as it is universally associated with alertness and caution. Red is easily noticeable, even from a distance, making it an ideal choice.
  • White Text and Symbols: White text and symbols on a red background offer a stark contrast, making the sign easily readable. This colour combination is standard for fire equipment signs and quickly conveys information.
  • Use of Fluorescent Colours: Fluorescent colours can make the sign more visible in low-light conditions. However, these should be used sparingly and in the proper context to avoid causing confusion.
  • Avoiding Colour Clashes: Avoiding colour clashes that could make the sign difficult to read. For instance, using similar shades for the background and text can reduce the sign’s effectiveness.

Understanding fire equipment signs’ symbols and colour coding ensures quick and effective responses during emergencies.

The Correct Placement of Fire Equipment Signs

The correct placement of fire equipment signs is crucial for their effectiveness in guiding individuals during emergencies. Properly positioned signs can distinguish between a well-coordinated evacuation and a chaotic situation.

This section delves into the various factors that influence the placement of fire equipment signs, such as height, visibility, and proximity to the equipment they denote.

Height and Visibility

Eye Level Placement

Placing fire equipment signs at eye level is generally considered the best practice for maximum visibility.

At this height, individuals easily notice and read the signs, ensuring that crucial information is quickly and clearly communicated. This is particularly important in high-traffic areas where quick decision-making is essential.

Higher Placement for Larger Spaces

In larger spaces like warehouses or auditoriums, signs may need to be placed higher than eye level to ensure they are visible from a distance. Elevated placement allows the signs to be seen over obstacles and equipment, aiding in quicker identification and action during emergencies.

Avoiding Obstructed Views

It’s vital to ensure that any objects, furniture, or equipment do not obstruct the view of the sign. An obstructed sign defeats its purpose and could lead to confusion or delays during an emergency.

Regular inspections should be conducted to ensure that new installations or rearrangements have not compromised the visibility of the signs.

Considering Viewing Distances

The size of the sign and the distance from which it can be viewed are also important factors. Larger signs may be necessary for areas where the viewing distance is greater. The text and symbols on the sign should be legible from the furthest point in the area it serves.

Proximity to Equipment

Directly Above Equipment

Placing signs directly above the fire equipment ensures immediate identification. This is particularly useful for equipment like fire extinguishers that may be placed in cabinets or recesses. The sign serves as an immediate visual cue, directing individuals to the equipment’s exact location.

On Equipment Cabinet Doors

If fire equipment is stored in a cabinet, placing the sign on the cabinet door is effective. This makes it easier for individuals to quickly identify and access the equipment, especially in stressful situations where every second counts.

On Nearby Walls

Sometimes, placing a sign directly above the equipment or on a cabinet door may not be feasible. In such cases, placing the sign on a nearby wall can serve the purpose, provided it is within immediate visual range of the equipment it denotes.

On Stand-Alone Posts if Necessary

In open spaces where wall or ceiling mounting is not possible, stand-alone posts can be used to display fire equipment signs. These should be sturdy and tall enough to ensure the sign is visible from a distance.

The correct placement of fire equipment signs is a nuanced process that requires careful consideration of various factors, including height, visibility, and proximity to the equipment. Adhering to these guidelines will contribute to a safer and more efficient response in emergencies.

Choosing the Right Size and Material

The size and material of your fire equipment signs are crucial factors that contribute to their effectiveness in an emergency. These elements determine not only the visibility but also the durability of the signs.

Therefore, making informed decisions is essential when selecting the size and material for your fire equipment signs.

Size Requirements

Each fire equipment sign should be large enough to be easily readable from a distance. This ensures that in an emergency, individuals can quickly identify the location of fire equipment and take appropriate action.

Large Symbols and Text

When it comes to size, large symbols and text are indispensable. They catch the eye faster and can be seen from greater distances, aiding in quicker emergency response times. Large symbols and text make identifying the signs easier for people with vision impairments, making your building more inclusive.

Proportional to the Space

The size of the sign should also be proportional to the space where it is installed. A sign that is too large for a small room may overwhelm the space, while a sign that is too small for a large area may go unnoticed. Therefore, it’s crucial to consider the dimensions of the area where the sign will be placed.

Visible from All Angles

Visibility from all angles is another essential consideration. The sign should be positioned from multiple viewpoints within the space. This ensures the sign remains visible regardless of where someone stands or moves, facilitating quicker responses in emergencies.

Consideration for Distant Viewing

Additional considerations such as font type and contrast come into play for signs that need to be viewed from a distance. These elements should be optimised to ensure that the sign is easily readable even from far away, aiding in quick identification and action.

Material Durability

Durability is another critical factor, as signs should be made from materials that can withstand various environmental conditions, including heat, cold, and moisture exposure.

Self-Adhesive Vinyl

Self-adhesive vinyl is popular due to its ease of application and versatility. It adheres well to various surfaces and is resistant to moisture. However, it may not be the best choice for high-temperature areas as it can peel off over time.

Rigid Plastic

Rigid plastic signs are more durable, especially for outdoor or high-traffic areas. These signs are robust and lightweight, making them easy to install. They are also resistant to fading and can withstand exposure to various elements.

Resistance to Fading

Resistance to fading is crucial, especially for signs in areas exposed to direct sunlight. UV-resistant materials will maintain their colour and visibility for extended periods, ensuring that the sign remains effective over time.

Fire-Resistant Materials

Given that these are fire equipment signs, using fire-resistant materials is not just advisable but essential. These materials will not contribute to the spread of fire and will remain visible even in high-temperature conditions, aiding in emergency response.

Choosing the right size and material for your fire equipment signs is critical in ensuring effective emergency response. Both visibility and durability are key factors that should guide your selection process.

Compliance with Regulations

Ensuring that fire equipment is correctly signposted is not just a matter of best practice; it’s a legal requirement. Compliance with regulations is crucial for building occupants’ safety and can also protect the facility manager or safety officer from potential legal repercussions.

Understanding Regulatory Standards

Understanding the standards set by regulatory bodies is the first step in ensuring compliance. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the British Standards Institution (BSI) are two key organisations providing fire safety signage guidelines in the UK.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Guidelines

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for regulating and enforcing workplace health, safety, and welfare. The HSE has set guidelines under the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. These regulations were implemented to bring the EC Safety Signs Directive 92/58/EEC into UK law. The directive aims to standardise safety signs across European Union member states, ensuring signs have the same meaning wherever they are seen.

The regulations cover various means of communicating health and safety information, including illuminated signs, hand and acoustic signals, and traditional sign boards such as prohibition and warning signs. Employers are required to provide specific safety signs whenever there is a risk that has not been avoided or controlled by other means. The regulations also require using road traffic signs within workplaces to regulate road traffic and mandate that employers maintain the safety signs they provide.

British Standards Institution (BSI) Guidelines

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is the national standards body of the United Kingdom. BSI provides guidelines for fire safety signs, including their design, installation, and maintenance. These guidelines are often more detailed than those provided by the HSE and may include specifications for materials, dimensions, and even the luminance of signs. Adhering to BSI standards can provide an additional layer of assurance that your fire safety signs meet the highest quality and effectiveness criteria.

Local Fire Safety Regulations

Local fire safety regulations can also significantly influence how fire equipment should be signposted. These regulations are often specific to the type of building, its usage, and the local authority jurisdiction. They may include requirements for the placement of signs, the frequency of inspections, and the qualifications of the persons responsible for these tasks. Ignoring local regulations can result in fines or legal action and compromise building occupants’ safety.

Regular Updates on Regulations

Staying updated on regulations is crucial as they can change over time. For instance, the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into force on 23 January 2023, implementing the majority of the recommendations made by the Grenfell Tower Inquiry in its Phase 1 report. These new regulations have specific requirements for high-rise residential buildings and multi-occupied residential buildings, including the need for wayfinding signage visible in low-light conditions and regular checks on firefighting equipment.

Compliance with regulations is not just a legal requirement but a moral obligation to ensure the safety of a building’s occupants. Understanding and adhering to guidelines from regulatory bodies like the HSE and BSI and local fire safety regulations is crucial for effective fire safety management.

Maintaining Fire Equipment Signs

Regular maintenance of fire equipment signs is crucial for ensuring their ongoing effectiveness. Over time, signs may suffer from wear and tear, fading, or other forms of damage that can compromise their visibility and readability.

This section delves into the essential maintenance practices that can help keep your fire equipment signs in optimal condition.

Routine Inspections

Routine inspections are a vital part of maintaining fire equipment signs. These inspections should focus on assessing the physical condition of the signs, including checking for any visible damage, wear, or deterioration.

It’s advisable to conduct these inspections at regular intervals, such as monthly or quarterly, to ensure that the signs remain in good condition and continue to serve their purpose effectively.

Regular Cleaning

Cleaning your fire equipment signs regularly is essential for maintaining visibility and readability.

Dust, grime, and other contaminants can accumulate on the surface of the signs, making them less effective in guiding people during emergencies. Use a mild detergent and a soft cloth to clean the signs, avoiding abrasive materials that could scratch or damage the surface.

This practice not only enhances the appearance of the signs but also prolongs their lifespan.

Checking for Fading

Over time, the colours and text on fire equipment signs can fade due to exposure to light and environmental factors.

Fading compromises the effectiveness of the signs, making them less visible and harder to read. It’s crucial to check for signs of fading during your routine inspections and take corrective action, such as replacing the faded signs with new ones, to ensure they remain effective.

Ensuring Secure Attachment

The secure attachment of fire equipment signs is critical for their effectiveness. Loose or wobbly signs can fall off, get damaged, or become a hazard themselves.

During your routine inspections, check the signs’ stability and mounting hardware. If any signs are loose or insecure, reattach them properly to ensure they stay in place and serve their intended purpose.

Prompt Replacement of Damaged Signs

If any signs are found to be damaged, faded, or otherwise compromised during your inspections, it’s crucial to replace them promptly. Damaged signs can mislead or confuse individuals during an emergency, leading to delayed response times and potentially worsening the situation.

Always keep a stock of replacement signs on hand to facilitate quick replacements when needed. Regular maintenance practices like routine inspections, cleaning, and prompt replacement of damaged signs are essential for keeping your fire equipment signs in optimal condition. By adhering to these practices, you can ensure that your signs continue to serve their crucial role in guiding people during emergencies.

Training and Awareness

Ensuring that all occupants of your building understand the fire equipment signs is crucial to their effectiveness. A well-placed sign is only as good as its ability to communicate vital information. Therefore, training and awareness are key components in maximising the utility of your fire equipment signs.

Staff Training

It’s crucial to include signage information as part of your fire safety training. Staff should be well-versed in each sign’s meaning, location, and purpose.

Explain The Different Symbols and Colours

Understanding the different symbols and colours used in fire equipment signs is essential for a quick and effective response during an emergency.

Symbols are generally designed to be simple and easily recognisable, even from a distance. For example, a fire extinguisher sign typically features a white pictogram on a red background. Red is universally associated with fire and danger, making it instantly recognisable.

Similarly, green is used for safe condition signs, such as exit routes. The British Standard BS 5499 and the European Norm ISO EN 7010 regulate these symbols and colours to ensure consistency and effectiveness.

Staff must be trained to recognise these symbols and colours, as they are designed to convey information rapidly without the need for text.

Discuss the Placement of Signs and What They Indicate

The placement of fire equipment signs is equally important.

Signs should be installed at eye level and in locations where they are easily visible. They should not be obstructed by any objects or placed too high or low, as this can impede visibility. The signs should also be illuminated naturally or artificially to ensure they are visible in all conditions. The placement should be logical; for example, a fire extinguisher sign should be directly above the actual fire extinguisher.

The British Standards Institution provides guidelines on the optimal placement of these signs to maximise their effectiveness.

Conduct Regular Refresher Courses

Regular refresher courses are essential to ensure staff remain familiar with the fire equipment signs and their meanings. These courses should be conducted annually and include practical exercises, such as identifying signs during a simulated fire drill. This hands-on approach ensures that staff can apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios, thereby enhancing the overall safety of the building.

Include Sign Information in Your Fire Drill Practices

Incorporating sign information into your fire drill practices is another effective way to reinforce staff training.

During fire drills, staff should be tasked with identifying the nearest fire equipment and exit routes based on the signs. This tests their knowledge and helps them internalise the information, making it second nature during an emergency.

Building Occupant Awareness

Visitors, clients, and other non-staff members should also be able to understand your signs. These individuals may not have had the benefit of formal training, making it even more crucial that your signs are easily interpretable.

Provide Guides or Handouts with Sign Information

Providing guides or handouts that explain the various fire equipment signs can be an effective way to educate building occupants. These guides should be readily available in reception areas and should be included in welcome packets for new tenants or clients. They should contain clear explanations and illustrations of each sign, along with what action should be taken upon seeing them.

Incorporate Sign Explanations into Safety Briefings

Safety briefings offer another opportunity to educate building occupants about fire equipment signs. These briefings should be mandatory for all new occupants and should include a segment dedicated to explaining the signs. This ensures that everyone in the building, regardless of their role, has at least a basic understanding of what each sign means and what to do in an emergency.

Post Clear Instructions Near Complex Signs

Providing clear instructions nearby can benefit more complex or less intuitive signs. These instructions should be concise yet comprehensive, providing all the necessary information without overwhelming the reader. They should be placed close to the sign in question, ensuring that anyone needing additional clarification can easily find it.

Use Universally Recognised Symbols Wherever Possible

Using universally recognised symbols ensures that your signs are easily understood, even by non-English speakers. These symbols are designed to be intuitive and are regulated by international standards to ensure consistency. Using these symbols can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your fire equipment signs, making your building safer for everyone.

Training and awareness are vital components in ensuring the effectiveness of your fire equipment signs. From staff training to building occupant awareness, each element plays a crucial role in enhancing the overall safety of your building.

Signage Consistency

Maintaining consistency in your fire equipment signage is crucial for aiding recognition and understanding. Consistency ensures that individuals can quickly identify and locate the necessary fire equipment in an emergency, enabling a swift and effective response.

Consistent Design

Keeping a uniform design across all signs is essential for immediate recognition. A consistent design language, including specific colours and symbols, helps individuals identify fire equipment signs quickly, reducing the time to respond in an emergency.

Use Consistent Colours and Symbols

Utilising a consistent colour scheme and set of symbols across all fire equipment signs is vital. For example, red is universally associated with fire equipment and should be prominently featured.

Symbols like fire extinguishers or hoses should be standardised to avoid confusion. This uniformity in visual elements not only aids in quick identification but also minimises the risk of misunderstandings during high-pressure situations.

Maintain a Similar Layout and Style for All Signs

The layout and style of the signs should also be consistent. Whether it’s the positioning of text, the arrangement of symbols, or the overall design template, uniformity in these aspects ensures that individuals can quickly scan and interpret the signs, especially in stressful situations.

Choose a Standard Size for All Similar Signs

Selecting a standard size for all similar signs is another critical aspect of maintaining design consistency.

A uniform size ensures that the signs are easily visible and identifiable, regardless of their location within the building. This standardisation also aids in creating a cohesive look and feel for all fire safety measures in the facility.

Ensure Text Style and Size Are Uniform

The text style and size used on the signs should be uniform to facilitate quick reading and comprehension. A standardised font and text size make it easier for individuals to read the signs from a distance, aiding in quick response times during emergencies.

Consistent Placement

Fire equipment signs should always be placed in expected, logical locations to ensure they are easily found when needed.

Install Signs at Similar Heights Throughout the Building

Installing signs at a consistent height throughout the building is crucial. This uniformity ensures that individuals instinctively know where to look for fire equipment signs, speeding up emergency response time.

Always Place Signs Near the Equipment That They Denote

Signs should always be placed in close proximity to the equipment they denote. This logical placement eliminates any guesswork in locating the fire equipment, allowing for a quicker and more effective response.

Use Similar Placements for Similar Types of Equipment

The signs should be placed in similar locations for similar types of fire equipment, such as extinguishers or hoses. This consistency in placement helps individuals quickly identify the type of equipment they need, especially in unfamiliar settings.

Avoid Hidden or Unexpected Sign Locations

It’s crucial to avoid placing signs in hidden or unexpected locations. Signs should be easily visible and not obstructed by any objects or placed in corners where they might be overlooked. Hidden or poorly placed signs can delay response times and compromise safety.

Consistency in designing and placing fire equipment signs is essential for ensuring quick and effective responses in emergencies.


In conclusion, correctly implementing and maintaining fire equipment signs can significantly enhance the safety measures in your building. You can ensure a swift response in a fire emergency by understanding the signs, placing them correctly, choosing the right size and material, complying with regulations, maintaining them, and ensuring proper training and consistency.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for further advice on fire equipment signage. Our team of experts is here to help you create a safer environment.