• October 17, 2019

    Most of us take the presence of fire safety signs for granted. But whilst we may not pay attention to them on a typical day, in a real emergency they can be the difference between life and death. That’s exactly why they are a crucial element of any businesses’ fire safety strategy. Read our full guide to categories of fire signage and fire safety signs to discover why they’re so important, if your business is required to use signage by law, what the various categories of fire signage are, as well as what each sign really means.

    Why are fire safety signs so important?

    It’s vital that everyone in a building is aware of their nearest fire exit, escape routes and where to find fire fighting equipment. Fire signage is essential in guiding the occupants of your business premises when a fire breaks out. If employees and visitors don’t know where their nearest fire escape and equipment is located, they could be susceptible to serious harm.

    Is fire safety signage required by law?

    Your business must be compliant with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (often referred to as RRO). This life saving legislation, set out by the UK government, brings together all of the fire safety laws and safety regulations for businesses in the UK.

    The RRO states that fire signage must be fitted at all business premises to help prevent and fight fires. But what type of signs need to be in place?

    What are the categories of fire signage?

    The different types of fire safety signs that businesses must have, include:

    To help prevent fires:Smoking prohibited fire safety sign on fence

    • Prohibition signs – Signs that fall into this category include “No Smoking” notices. These messages outline a prohibited action that could increase the risk of a fire.
    • Mandatory signs – These signs indicate steps people must take to comply with fire regulations, which are designed to safeguard occupants. An example of a mandatory sign is a “fire door keep shut” notice.
    • Warning signs – These signs are required to make people aware of the presence of flammable materials. For example, a store cupboard that contains potentially dangerous liquids.

    To aid the escaping and fighting of fires

    • emergency exit fire safety sign lit up in darkSafe condition signs – These signs indicate fire escape routes, fire assembly points and first aid equipment to guide occupants dealing with an emergency and escaping the building.
    • Fire exit signs – These signs are required in order to highlight the location of fire exits so those escaping the building quickly know which door to head for.
    • Fire equipment signs – These notices direct people to the location of fire fighting equipment such as extinguishers or fire hoses and also fire alarm activation areas. Depending on the layout of your building, this may not be required if the equipment itself is highly visible.
    • Supplementary information signs – To provide further instruction, these signs include information such as a directional arrows or text to expand on neighbouring notices.

    How is fire safety signage colour-coded?

    The fire signage categories listed above have been standardised with different colours and shapes. As a result, they can be recognised immediately and interpreted quickly in an emergency situation.

    What colour are fire exit signs?

    Fire exit image square

    Fire safety signs associated with escaping a fire are green, which has become the universal colour for “go”. These types of notices are square or rectangle in shape and have contrasting white writing on them. Exit notices may need to be illuminated so that they adhere to fire door signs regulations. Emergency lighting is used to make them visible in varying light conditions.

    What colour are fire equipment signs?fire hose reel sign

    Any fire safety signs that are associated with fire fighting equipment is red. This is in line with the equipment itself, which is also required to be red in colour. The writing and pictograms on these signs are white. One example of this kind of sign is a fire hose notice, which highlights the location of fire fighting equipment.

    Fire door keep clear fire safety signWhat do blue and white health and safety signs mean?

    Blue fire safety signs with white writing on them state mandatory precautions that one must abide by in a building. Mandatory signs are circular in shape. An example of this type of sign includes the familiar “FIRE DOOR KEEP SHUT” notice, designed to offer protection in the event of a fire.

    hazard safety sign

    What message do yellow safety signs carry?

    Yellow fire safety signs carry warning messages and are triangular in shape. They feature a black symbol that indicates the type of hazard in a specific area. An example of a yellow warning message is a fire risk sign.

    Examples of fire safety sign categories


    Type of fire safety sign Colour of sign Shape of sign Message Example signage
    Mandatory signs that indicate things that SHOULD be done Blue with white writing or symbols Circular Fire door keep shut Fire Door Keep Shut Sign
    Prohibition signs that warn outline things that SHOULD NOT be done Red outline with a white background and a red strike through Circular No naked flames No Naked Flames sign
    Warning signs that highlight specific fire risks in a building Yellow with black detail Triangular Fire risk fire risk warning fire safety sign
    Safe condition and fire exit signs that highlight escape routes Green with white writing and symbols Rectangular Fire exit this way Fire Exit this way sign
    Fire equipment signs that direct people to extinguishers and hoses Red with white writing and symbols Circular or rectangular Fire extinguisher is located here Fire extinguisher sign
    Supplementary information signs to provide additional direction Multiple colours, including green, red or yellow Rectangular Escape route Supplementary arrow sign for fire safety direction

    How do I ensure that my workplace has the required fire safety signs?

    Firstly, it’s imperative that a fire risk assessment is carried out. This will check the following things to ensure that your workplace complies with the RRO:

    • Fire hazards in your building are sufficiently highlighted to occupants
    • Sufficient control measures such as signage are in place to lower fire risk
    • Escape routes are clearly flagged and staff have received the required training
    • Your fire safety strategy is robust

    We always recommend businesses book in for a professional fire risk assessment. This is carried out by our team of fire experts, who are accredited by the Institution of Fire Engineers, who will ensure that your site is compliant with all the laws and regulations.

    Need more information?

    Contact the fire safety experts at BusinessWatch today for a no-obligation chat about your requirements. We can offer free advice to help your business become RRO compliant. Our knowledgeable team have helped hundreds of UK businesses to reduce the likelihood of fire at their premises and improve the safety of employees. BusinessWatch is a BAFE approved provider of fire safety services.

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