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11 Aug, 2023

Most business owners are aware of the importance of a fire warning sign, but there’s more to safety and emergency regulations than meets the eye. In the case of a fire, every second counts and can be the difference between a safe evacuation and absolute chaos.

To help you better understand fire safety signs and what they mean, we’ve outlined all of the information you need to know as a responsible business owner.

Importance of Fire Safety Signs

Fire safety signs play a huge role in keeping people and property safe. These signs are mandated by laws like the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and help to warn people about hazards, guide them through emergency routes and communicate preventative measures.

While every property (including residences and businesses) will usually be required to have certain signs in accordance with their fire risk assessment, the types of signs you will find can vary. Generally, they are placed to prevent fires by raising awareness about risks and by discouraging dangerous activities.

During emergencies, fire safety signs can help to facilitate the right actions to take. They also make people aware of where emergency exits and equipment like fire extinguishers are located.

Types of Fire Safety Signs

In order to keep both the people and your property safe, it’s important to know the different types of fire safety signs that are needed. The following types of signage include:

Escape route signs

These signs are positioned above doors, hallways and stairwells. They help to guide people towards the quickest and safest exit.

Emergency exit signs

You can find emergency or fire exit signs and emergency release signs on doors with security and fire safety mechanisms (like a fire door, for instance). These signs include instructions on how to work these mechanisms.

Fire exit signs are essential to have in order to help get large numbers of people to safety in the event of an emergency. By having these signs up, it also allows people to learn the main escape routes so that if an emergency does occur, they already know the right routes to safety.

Fire alarm and equipment signs

These signs are incredibly important for helping people locate and identify the closest fire extinguisher, fire alarms or the fire alarm call point, and other fire-fighting equipment. Since these signs are usually red, they draw attention to themselves and usually ensure that even panicked individuals can effectively respond to the risk of a fire.

Safe condition signs

In compliance with the relevant health and safety legislation standard BS 5499, these green signs mark off the location and instructions for first aid equipment. This includes evacuation chairs and accommodations for individuals with special needs.

Fire muster point sign

Also known as fire assembly point signs, a fire muster indicates designated areas and zones where people should assemble in the event of a fire. These signs are similar to a safe condition sign in that they are green and white signs that indicate safety. I

Mandatory signs

Mandatory signs are usually blue and white and help to avoid fires by explaining appropriate behaviours to use in certain areas. They are usually placed on doors and explain appropriate actions, like keeping the fire door shut, which ensures that people are adhering to safety protocols.

Hazardous materials signs

These signs are usually in place to warn people about increased fire risks and are often near storage areas that contain flammable materials like oils or gases. The main purpose of these signs is to help draw attention to potential hazards, ensuring that people are aware of these when entering a certain area helping them to act with caution in mind.

Prohibition signs

Red and white prohibition signs explain what actions to avoid in emergency situations to reduce fire risks. They will usually be positioned where they are necessary, and prohibit certain actions like smoking or using elevators during a fire.

Understanding Fire Safety Signage

Colour Codes and Symbols

  • Green: Green signs are used to denote safe conditions and emergency escape routes. They usually have white pictograms on green backgrounds to guide people to exits and the nearest assembly point.
  • Red: Red signs are usually used as prohibition signs. They can also show fire equipment locations and provide additional information that may be crucial in an emergency.
  • Yellow: Yellow signs are easy to spot and typically warn people of potential danger. These signs may be triangular with black text and graphics on a bright yellow background to highlight areas with an increased risk.
  • Blue: Blue signs represent mandatory actions and are needed to comply with certain health and safety regulations. These circular signs have white text on a blue background and indicate actions like keeping fire doors closed.

Interpretation and Meanings

  • Fire exit signs: In the UK, green fire exit signs help to guide people towards escape routes. These signs feature the ‘rapidly walking man’ pictogram and an arrow, which help to ensure swift evacuation when there is a fire.
  • Red fire safety notice: Circular red signs with white writing and pictures show you what not to do and where you can find fire equipment. For example, you may have seen red fire extinguisher signs around public buildings that show you exactly where to find the nearest fire extinguisher.
  • Yellow warning signs: Triangular yellow signs are important for demarcating areas that could be extremely dangerous in the case of a fire. A good example of this is the well-known yellow sign with the image of a flame. This helps to indicate that there are flammable materials in the area to help make people aware of a potential fire hazard.
  • Blue fire safety sign: Circular blue signs are mandatory actions that must be followed to maintain fire safety. It’s important to remember that fire training is essential for businesses with employees or similar institutions. It can help to educate them on what to do in the case of an emergency and how to use equipment safely.

Roles of Fire Safety Signs in Emergencies

Fire safety signs play crucial roles in emergencies by providing clear and concise visual cues that guide individuals to safety and facilitate effective emergency responses.

Guiding People to Safety

During fire emergencies, panic and confusion can hinder clear decision-making, which can make a bad situation worse. That’s why safety signs are so important. They can help to draw people’s attention and clearly explain where they need to go in a quick, calm and ultimately safe manner.

Well-placed signs with clear directions and universally recognised symbols can help any occupants navigate a building and find the nearest and quickest escape routes. Energies can occur in any type of building, and as such it’s essential that all types of buildings have fire-safety signs. This includes everything from commercial properties, residential spaces, industrial buildings and public spaces. By eliminating any uncertainty, you can lessen the risk of injuries and fatalities in an emergency.

Improves education and preparedness

Fire safety signs also educate occupants about the proper usage of fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and alarms, empowering them to take immediate and informed actions. By functioning as a constant reminder of the potential risks and necessary precautions, these signs contribute significantly to overall preparedness, enhancing the likelihood of a safe evacuation and reducing the potential for injuries or loss of life during fire-related emergencies.

Assisting Firefighters During Operations

Firefighters rely on signs to help them swiftly locate essential information, like where to find certain equipment or the available resources within a building. Quick access to equipment is crucial in helping firefighters contain the fire, which will minimise the risk of the fire spreading and damage to the building.

Maintaining Fire Safety Signs

Regular inspections of safety signs can help to update the information that these signs provide. Since buildings undergo changes all the time, it’s essential to update the signs as well to be accurate and relevant. Inspectors should always pay close attention to:

  • The visibility and placement of these signs
  • The condition of the signs (are they legible, bright, and easily identifiable)
  • Signs should always be securely mounted
  • Signs that require illumination should be well-lit and have good lighting in the area where they are placed


You should never underestimate the importance of clear emergency signage and fire safety regulations. If you need a fire risk assessment or want to know more about fire safety signs and other equipment you may need, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of skilled professionals are ready to meet all of your safety needs to keep any occupants or employees within your building safe and well-informed in any situation.