What is a fire safety sign?
A fire safety sign is defined as a sign which:
a. provides information on escape routes and emergency exits in case of fire;
b. provides information on the identification or location of fire-fighting equipment; or
c. gives warning in case of fire.
Duties on employers to provide these signs will mostly arise from the Fire Precautions Act 1972. Often the enforcing authority will determine which and where to locate the signs (eg: if a fire certificate is required). In other cases employers will need to provide signs depending on the outcome of their health and safety risk assessment. However, If changes to existing signs are proposed and a fire certificate is in force, check first with your enforcing authority.
Be aware that under the new directive a fire safety sign bearing only text will no longer be acceptable.
Use of signs in buildings or structures
People usually leave premises by the same way that they enter or by routes familiar to them. Therefore, alternative emergency exits (which may not be in normal every day use) need to be clearly indicated so that people are aware of all ways to leave the building. This provides reassurance in an emergency.
Make sure that fire exit signs are positioned immediately above the exit, if possible, if not, choose a position that is clearly visible next to the exit where it will not be obscured from view. Where an exit cannot be seen, or a person escaping may be in doubt, fire exit directional signs using a directional arrow should be used at suitable points along the escape route. Your enforcing authority for fire safety may require the provision of certain additional signs to aid the effective and efficient use of escape routes. Eg where there is a risk that a door may become obstructed. A conspicuous ‘Fire Escape - Keep Clear’ may be specified on the door.
In conditions of poor lighting illuminated signs or photo-luminescent signs may be required.
Advice on the application of the regulations to fire safety signs can be obtained from your enforcing authority for fire safety, that is, from fire authorities, environmental health officers or building control officers of local authorities, or in cases where Fire Certificates (Special Premises) Regulations 1976 apply, HSE inspectors.