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A Guide to Fire Safety Signs

The importance of having fire safety signs in buildings cannot be overemphasised. In everyday situations, they make occupants aware of health and safety risks or hazards on the premises. In times of emergencies, these signs are valuable guides for instructing people on what to do and where to go. 

As an employer, building owner or responsible person, one has the legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of building occupants or visitors; installing the appropriate fire safety signs is one of the ways to comply. Adhering to the guidance provided by these signs is essential in helping prevent emergencies from happening in the first place, as well as saving lives when they do happen. 

Categories of Fire Safety Signs 

For most people, fire safety signs are associated mostly with either the green and white signs to indicate fire exits or the red and white signs for fire extinguishers. As a building owner, property manager, or responsible person, one realises that there are more to fire safety signs than these two types. 

Fire safety signs are divided into various categories according to the type of message they contain, whether they are to provide information, warning, or instruction. The signs are also assigned colours according to their categories and may contain words, images, or both.  


Warning Signs

These are triangular signs that warn people of nearby potential dangers or risks. The sign has a yellow background with a black band making the sides of the triangle, and the image of the hazard is shown in black. Example: Fire Hazard sign 

Prohibition Signs

These are circular signs that convey prohibited actions or activities. The sign has a white background, a red border, and a red crossbar descending at an angle of 45 degrees from left to right. The image showing what NOT to do in order to keep safe is depicted in black. Example: In Case of Fire, Do Not Use Lift sign 

Mandatory Signs

These are circular signs that instruct people of required action or activity to ensure safety. The sign has a blue background with the image or text in white. Example: Fire Door Keep Shut sign 

Fire Action Notices

For Fire Action Notices, wherein a list of actions to be carried out in the event of a fire is shown, the amount of text and images conveying those instructions require that a rectangular format is used. Fire Action Notices often combine some or all categories of signs. 

The General Mandatory sign (circular sign showing a white exclamation mark on a blue background) is typically used as a header of a Fire Action Notice.

Fire Equipment Signs

These are square or rectangular signs that are displayed to indicate where fire equipment and fire alarm activation points are located. These signs have a red background with the images or text in white. Placing these signs where they are visible is in compliance with Article 13 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005Examples: Fire Extinguisher sign, Fire Hose Reel sign, Fire Blanket sign, Fire Alarm Button sign, Dry Riser sign 

Safe Condition Signs

These are rectangular signs that show where the exit routes, first aid equipment, and emergency exits are. These signs have a green background while the images and text are in white. Examples: Fire Assembly Point sign, First Aid Equipment sign, and Fire Exit sign 

More about Fire Exit signs: 

  • In the UK, fire exit signs feature the image of the “rapidly walking man”, supplementary text (Fire exit or Exit), and an arrow.  
  • The final fire exit sign which opens to the exterior of the building does not display the arrow. 
  • Exit signs must be legible at all times, with provision for their illumination made if normal lighting fails. Methods of illumination can be emergency lamps adjacent to the sign or emergency lamps contained within the sign. Signs that are made from photoluminescent materials are acceptable to supplement visibility when light levels from normal or emergency lighting is reduced. However, they are not accepted as an alternative to emergency lighting.  
  • Exercise prudence in the placement of signs. Having sufficient signage on the premises is not just for compliance purposes but is ultimately necessary to prevent injury and save lives during emergencies. Too many fire exit signs or having old non-compliant signs nearby new updated ones will just lead to confusion. 

Complete information on the rules and regulations concerning fire safety signs can be found here: 

Whilst this short guide illustrates the various fire safety signs and the corresponding legislation and regulations, the particular requirements relevant to your business or property will be determined by doing a Fire Risk Assessment . Contact us today to get started.