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Compliance with UK Standards: An Overview of Fire Safety and Exit Sign Regulations

24th November 2023

At Fire Stoppers, we understand that fire safety and exit signs may go unnoticed in day-to-day life. However, if faced with an emergency, these signs become crucial, playing a pivotal role in averting panic, directing individuals to the right emergency exits, and providing essential instructions on fire safety equipment. 

In this blog, we’ll provide a detailed overview of fire safety and exit sign regulations, ensuring you are well-prepared with the knowledge needed to navigate emergencies with confidence.

For those overseeing commercial premises, awareness of the diverse fire safety signs required by UK legislation is essential. Governed by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, these regulations encompass various categories beyond the commonly recognised fire exit signs. 

The four main applications for fire safety signs include: 

  • Fire Action Notices
  • Signage for exit routes and assembly points
  • Indicators for firefighting equipment
  • Warning/Prohibition signs 

Tailoring your signage to your premises layout, use, and equipment is crucial - often clarified in a Fire Risk Assessment. 

So, what are the details for the four main categories? 

Fire Action Notices:

This is a vital component of fire safety communication within a facility, as it provides clear and concise instructions to those working in, or visiting a building in the event of a fire emergency. 

Typically, these signs come pre-printed with fields to complete, including details like the fire brigade's contact number, designated exit, assembly point location, and specific building instructions. While various fire action sign types are available to suit diverse premises, it's mandatory for all commercial establishments to exhibit a Fire Action Notice. 

It’s also advised these notices are adjacent to each Fire Alarm call point and at the final exit doors, for optimal visibility in the event of a fire.

Signage for exit routes and assembly points:

In smaller, straightforward layouts, fire exit signs may not be obligatory if the exit is unmistakable, like a single door in a small shop. However, for complex structures they are essential. The type needed depends on the ease of occupant navigation during a fire, especially in unfamiliar layouts. Directional signs, often green with arrows, may be necessary for guiding occupants along the shortest escape route.

Every fire exit door must bear a 'Fire door, keep shut' sign—a mandatory directive for safety. Depending on the door type, additional instructions or indications of automatic operation may be required. 

The assembly point, strategically distanced for safety, should be well-marked and consideration for occupants' ages and abilities is crucial when selecting a suitable assembly point.

The importance of these signs lies in minimising confusion, enhancing occupant awareness, and facilitating an efficient emergency response. 

Indicators for firefighting equipment

These signs provide a swift and efficient response during a fire emergency. By guiding occupants to the precise locations of firefighting equipment, these indicators allow individuals to take immediate action for more effective fire suppression.

A recent study discovered that 94% of the time an extinguisher is used, it puts out the fire within two minutes, so knowing which equipment to use depending on the type of fire is imperative. 

Choose the most suitable Fire Extinguisher ID sign format for your extinguisher locations—whether affixed to a wall or attached to a stand. Additionally, consider providing fire safety signs for equipment like hose reels and dry risers if present on your premises. Selecting appropriate sign formats ensures clear and effective communication of safety information throughout your facility.

Warning/Prohibition signs 

Warning and prohibition signs in a fire emergency convey critical information to individuals, guiding their actions for safety. 

Warning signs in a fire emergency, like "Fire Hazard," indicate potential dangers, prompting caution. Whereas prohibition signs, such as "No Smoking," clearly forbid specific actions during a fire. Both types of signs are essential for effective emergency response, helping occupants navigate safely and minimise potential hazards.

It’s essential that all fire safety signages adhere to BS5499 for legal compliance. This standard outlines the colours, design, and layout for optimal legibility in varying lighting conditions. Non-compliance may result in financial penalties or criminal charges for the responsible person overseeing the building.

To find out more about our fire safety services, please visit our website to contact us today.