A Guide to Fire Safety Signs

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A Guide to Fire Safety Signs

On any given day, you may walk past numerous fire safety signs without really paying too much attention. However, in an emergency situation, this signage could provide the difference between life and death. Fire safety signs prevent panic, guide people to the correct emergency exit and provide instructions for fire safety equipment. 

Here at LW Safety, we’re here to provide you with a comprehensive guide to common fire safety signs you may encounter, so that you’re fully prepared in the event of an emergency.

Black fire exit door with keep clear fire safety sign

What are the regulations regarding fire safety signs?

Two important pieces of legislation establish what is expected of fire safety signage: the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Whilst the latter covers general aspects of fire safety and introduces the idea of a ‘responsible person’, the former outlines specific requirements and sets a minimum standard for all fire safety signage.

In order to be legally compliant, all fire safety signage must adhere to BS5499. This provides guidance on the colours, design and layout that should be used on signs to ensure maximum legibility in all lighting conditions. Failure to comply with these regulations could lead to financial penalties or even criminal charges for the responsible person for the building.

Why are fire safety signs important?

In a fraught emergency situation, you may forget the location of your nearest fire exits. If this is the case, you need only look at the wall, where there should be emergency signage directing you to the appropriate exit. This is especially important in commercial locations, where customers unfamiliar with evacuation procedures may be wandering around.

In everyday life, fire safety signage is essential for providing warnings about potential hazards, helping to prevent fires from occurring in the first place. They also provide key guidance on how to effectively use fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, to ensure proper handling in an emergency. 

Fire safety sign categories

All fire safety signage falls into one of the following four categories:

Fire action notice signs

Fire action notice safety signage

Fire action notice signs are crucial in an emergency as they provide clear and concise instructions for the building’s occupants to follow. These signs are usually filled in by hand by a designated responsible person and contain important information, such as the nearest exit and assembly points, as well as any specific instructions for the building. It’s important to pay attention to these signs to ensure a safe and swift exit.

Fire exit and door signs 

Fire exit fire safety sign

No matter how complex the layout of your building is, all commercial premises should be fitted with signs indicating the presence of a fire exit. Typically, these are green and white and contain arrows pointing towards the nearest route. 

Every fire exit door must also have a mandatory notice affixed to it, usually in blue and white, that provides guidance on how to operate the door safely. This may include instructions such as ‘keep clear’, ‘automatic door’ and ‘keep shut’.

Fire equipment signs

Fire extinguisher fire safety equipment sign

Fire safety equipment can be a crucial tool to prevent small fires from burning out of control. Fire equipment signs are usually red and white and provide detailed instructions on how best to operate fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets.

Warning and prohibition signs

Flammable material fire warning sign

Warning signs are used to alert people to a potential hazard nearby, such as flammable gases, chemicals or oil. They are often used in conjunction with prohibition signs to discourage acts that will heighten fire risk, such as smoking near any flammable substances. Typically, these signs will be highly visible and printed in yellow and black.


LW Safety are your leading fire safety specialists, providing a comprehensive range of fire safety equipment and services that will ensure your property is fully compliant with all British legislation. Our BAFE-accredited technicians can supply and install all manner of fire safety signage, to simplify evacuation and help keep all building occupants safe.

We operate throughout Wembley, Harrow, Uxbridge and beyond — get in touch with our friendly team today to discuss your needs.

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