Fire safety systems and equipment – fire safety signs


To afford compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in respect of premises, where necessary, in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, emergency routes and exits must be indicated by signs.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 covers the provision of fire safety signs that are required in the workplace.

These regulations apply to all places of work covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Standardisation of signs

Safety signs are divided into categories according to the type of message they are intended to convey. Each category is assigned a specific format and set of colours. Detailed specifications such as relative dimensions and the permitted relative proportions of colours are given in BS 5499.

Mandatory Signs

Fire-door-shutThese signs should be used to indicate actions that must be carried out in order to comply with statutory requirements. For example self-closing fire doors that must be kept closed, to comply with a fire risk assessment, should be labelled with “FIRE DOOR KEEP SHUT” signs.

Safe condition signs

push-bar-to-openThese signs should he used to indicate escape routes, emergency exits and the like. Some UK fire safety signs in this category are not required by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals)

Regulations 1996. For example “PUSH BAR TO OPEN” is not required to comply and there is no pictogram with that meaning. Such signs are still needed for compliance with fire risk assessment and in some cases the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Safe condition signs consist of a green rectangle or square with the pictogram or text in white positioned centrally.

Exit signs

fire-exitEvery doorway or other exit providing access to a means of escape, other than exits in ordinary use, should be provided with an exit sign. Installation of signs conforming to British Standard 5499 will satisfy this requirement.

Illumination of signs

Exit signs should be legible at all material times. In premises where emergency lighting has been considered necessary for means of escape purposes, such signs should be illuminated by the emergency lighting supply in the event of a failure of the normal lighting. Any of the following methods are considered suitable:

  • lamps external to the sign but providing adequate illumination of it
  • lamps contained within the sign (internally illuminated signs), or
  • luminous signs requiring no external power source.

Fire fighting equipment signs

fire-equipmentThese signs are used to mark the location of fire-fighting equipment and fire alarm activation points. However, where possible, fire equipment should be positioned where it is clearly visible. The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals)

Regulations 1996 require red to be used as the identifying colour for fire-fighting equipment. If the equipment itself is red this will satisfy the requirement. Where it is not red then highlighting the position of fire-fighting equipment, by colouring the background behind the equipment red, may be enough to comply.

Fire equipment signs consist of a red rectangle or square with the pictogram in white positioned centrally on the sign.

Fire safety systems and equipment – fire safety signs was last updated on March 21, 2018.


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