Guidance Sheet: Purpose and need for an effective fire safety signing system

All signs conforming to BS5499-1 : 1990 and BS5499-4 : 2000, used in conjunction with a formal risk assessment, satisfy all requirements under Building, Fire Precaution, and Health & Safety at Work Regulations and Legislation.

Fire safety signs are divided into seven main categories:
  1. Escape Route: Exit and Fire Exit Signs
  2. Escape Equipment: Door Mechanism and Location Signs
  3. Fire Fighting: Equipment and Location Signs
  4. Mandatory Notice: Fire Action Signs
  5. Mandatory Instruction: Door Signs for Fire Safety Management
  6. Prohibition: Fire Prevention and Unsafe Social Activity Signs
  7. Hazard Warning: Risk Identification
Escape Route Signs
For an escape route signing system to be effective, it is recommended that from any place within the building occupants should have sight of a sign or series of signs (Exit or Fire Exit), which leads them to a place of safety. This recommendation is laid down to fulfill the obligations of employers, managers or occupiers, to ensure that personnel and visitors are aware of their immediate escape route. This obligation is a requirement under Fire Precaution and Health and Safety at Work Regulations and Legislation.
Escape Equipment Signs
To ensure a safe, efficient and effective escape from a building, it is recommended that all doors within a means of escape containing emergency devices, are clearly marked with the appropriate operating instructions.
Fire Fighting Equipment and Location Signs
Part of a formal risk assessment is ensuring that all fire fighting equipment can be easily located, when required. The risk assessment should also ensure that the equipment located displays the correct classes of fire for safe and effective use. The use of appropriately displayed signs at the fire point will make a positive contribution to the framework of Fire Safety Management.
Mandatory Fire Action Notice Signs
It is recommended that the actions to be taken in the event of a fire are displayed in conspicuous locations throughout the building. An example of this is at fire alarm call points, as the primary action in the event of a fire is to raise the alarm and summon the Fire Brigade.
Mandatory Door Instruction Signs
The use of mandatory door instruction signs is recommended to support the principles of good fire safety management and emergency planning procedures. The protection of escape routes from the influx of smoke, or the spread of fire, is almost totally dependent upon the quality of confinement.
Prohibition Signs
The prevention of a fire, and the safety of personnel, is fundamental in supporting good fire safety management. The display of prohibition signs can assist in the prevention of any activity which is likely to cause risk or injury. It is recommended that these signs are displayed in conspicuous positions throughout the building.
Hazard Warning Signs
The identification of risk to personnel is fundamental to the fire risk assessment. The display of appropriate prohibition or mandatory signs will endorse the best practice in Fire Safety Management.