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Which Fire Safety Signs do you need?

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 provide guidance on the different types of fire safety signs that business owners should use around their premises. The regulations cover many different elements of signage and in particular how information can be communicated to employees and visitors. This would include, for example, acoustic signals such as fire alarms and spoken instructions, illuminated notices and the usual warning and prohibition signs.

If you own or manage any type of commercial premises, fire safety signs are obligatory. While a fire exit sign is perhaps one of the most common safety signs that you will see, there are lots of different types of sign that will depend on how your business operates. Specifically, the signs that you use will be governed by both the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Health and Safety legislation mentioned above.

You will need to be familiar with the five main types of fire safety signs that are applicable in the UK;

  • Safety signs (Fire Action Notice) that detail what you should do in the event of a fire.
  • Safety signs that identify fire escape routes, doors and where to assemble.
  • Safety signs identifying the location of equipment such as extinguishers.
  • Warning signs such as ‘Danger’.
  • Prohibition signs such as ‘No Smoking’

A fire safety sign should also be luminescent so that they can be clearly seen if staff or visitors need to navigate their way out of the premises if the lighting fails. The signs that you need will depend on the layout of the building, how it is used and what equipment is available. A fire risk assessment will identify the different signs that you need.

The most common fire safety signs include:

  • Fire Action Notice – A notification that alerts visitors and staff of the steps they need to take if they discover a fire.
  • Fire Exits – If a commercial property is relatively small you don’t need a fire exit sign. If it’s obvious where the nearest exit is, fire exit signs are not necessary. For larger or more complex buildings, these signs are crucial. For large buildings, it is important to include directional signs that staff or visitors can follow using the safest exit route out of the building.
  • Fire Fighting Equipment – If a fire does break out, it is important that staff know where fire fighting equipment is so fires can be tackled as quickly as possible.
  • Warning – These are yellow and black, and they are designed to draw attention to some form of danger, such as flammable gas, or liquids.
  • Prohibition – These are red and black and give clear information to staff and visitors to help prevent the accidental start of a fire.

Understanding fire safety signs is important so you can keep staff and visitors safe at all times.