The individual requirements for your premise’s fire safety signs will be determined by your business’ individual risk assessment. this short guide to fire safety signs introduces the main signage available and shows you which situations they should be displayed.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that all workplaces must have adequate safety signs to point people towards fire-fighting equipment, emergency routes, and emergency exits. Primarily, they are used to warn and instruct employees of risks to their health and safety. This legal requirement is vital because, without proper signage, you are potentially putting employees’ lives in danger. Under health and safety law, all employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees whilst at work: fire safety signs are just one of the many things that you can do to comply with this requirement.

What are The Rules on Fire Safety Signs?

The following tips are stated in the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, they provide some guidance on which signs should be used and how and where they should be displayed:

  • Noncompliance to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 may result in CRIMINAL prosecution of Directors, Proprietors, Managers, and those responsible.
  • Fire safety signs should always be clear and unambiguous – fire signs are used to clearly and effectively indicate the escape routes and exits.
  • Escape routes and doors must be obviously labelled – any door that could be confused with an emergency exit should be marked clearly with a sign or notice indicating ‘no exit’, ‘no way out or labelled with their use, such as ‘storeroom’
  • Escape route signs must be displayed along the exit route – signs should be placed at all changes of direction in corridors, stairs, open spaces and above all doors or junctions.
  • Fire safety signs should be illuminated – this ensures that they can always be seen and be legible during power outages
  • Direction arrows are included on escape route signs to indicate the quickest route to safety – wherever you are in a building, it is important that you can immediately see a sign for the nearest fire escape route. 
  • Emergency exit signs above the final exit door should not feature arrows. Instead, they should be replaced by just the image of a running man or simply have the words ‘exit’ or ‘fire exit’.
  • Don’t mix signs – stick to all European Standard signs or all British standards signs: don’t mix the two.
  • It is recommended that fire safety directions are in picture form with supplementary text -signs need to be suitable for use by everyone, including those who have poor vision, suffer from dyslexia, or do not have English as their first language. The Disability Discrimination Act further says that you must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for the disabled, including displaying braille and tactile fire safety signage alongside the standard picture signs.
  • All employees should know the location of the nearest call point and what to do in an emergency – fire safety training is a legal requirement.
  • Fire-fighting equipment must be identified with signs – for example, signs indicating the location of a fire hose reel or extinguisher.


Why is the Fire Exit Sign Green?

In the UK, fire exit signs are coloured green and white, this colour combination signifies a safe condition. These signs must feature a pictogram of the ‘rapidly walking man’ and an arrow. 

What do Red Fire Safety Signs Mean?

In the UK, red fire safety signs are used to indicate prohibition, the location of fire equipment, and supplementary information. Red prohibition signs are circular with a red border, white background and black image and warn you of what not to do in order to maintain safety. Fire equipment signs are square with red background and white images and are used to indicate the location of fire-fighting equipment.

What are yellow warning signs for?

Yellow warning signs are used to give warning of danger and are required by the (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. These types of signs should be placed in areas of increased danger, for example, a chemical storage room may have flammable material or hazardous materials signs indicating a higher risk of danger (fire), and that caution is needed.

What are the blue Fire safety signs for?

Blue signs should be used to indicate actions that must be carried out in order to comply with statutory requirements. For example, fire doors must have “fire door keep shut” signs on both sides to indicate that the door is intended to stay close at all times as its purpose is to slow down the spread of fire.


What is the benefit of photoluminescent signs?

Here an MCL we value quality and effectiveness that’s why we are proud partners with Everlux with their Photoluminescent signage range. Photoluminescent signs offer increased visibility even in times where visibility would be obstructed. For example during the likelihood of a fire, visibility would be greatly reduced as power would be cut off to reduce greater fire risk. Everlux’s photoluminescent signs if given the correct amount of time to charge can be very bright and long-lasting approx 3100 minutes ( 51 hours).

Everlux ensures they follow the BS ISO 17398 standard to ensure the best quality product.


Photoluminecet quality assurance

On every Everlux photoluminescent sign, there will be details explaining the level of quality that can be expected. Information such as the luminosity intensity after 10 & 60 minutes, as well as the total amount of time which the sign will hold some level of light, can be found on each sign. Below is an example of what information can be found.

everlux photoluminescent safety sign rating

What fire safety sign do I need?

Fire safety signs are necessary as they display key information such as evacuation procedures, highlight danger areas, and should indicate where fire fighting equipment can be found including instructions for how to and how not to use them. (MCL offers fire safety training so you can ensure your staff is equipped with the correct knowledge to use the correct equipment).

When it comes to deciding what signage is needed, MCL Fire can conduct a fire risk assessment to determine what signage is needed in your premises to minimise the risk and damage of the fire.


Escape route signs

Escape route signs try to streamline the process of escaping a building. They are set up in a way that directs people to the fastest and safest escape route, they are commonly placed above doors, in the middle of long hallways, and on stairwells and will point to the safest and closest exit.

These signs are generally green in colour, In 2013 UK adopted ISO 7010 for their safety signs this meant that the news signs no longer had any text and uses the pictogram as the main function for conveying information. This helps as it eliminates the language barrier as people are able to see what the sign is telling them without the need to understand the language on the sign. However, it is not mandatory to immediately replace old signs unless they are worn or damaged.

Emergency Exit & Emergency Release signs

Doors with security and fire safety mechanisms such as push bars or automatic closing doors must have signs telling people how to open the door for example green “Push bar to open door”.

These signs similar to escape signs are green as they help indicate a suggested action/ route rather than a danger, caution, or mandatory action. They should be placed in clear view, on both sides of the door and besides the door or mechanism that the sign is referring to so that people can quickly and easily understand how to use the mechanism.

Fire alarm and fire fighting equipment

Potentially some of the most important signs, these signs are used to help locate & identify fire fighting equipment. Your employees should be fully trained in how to operate fire fighting equipment however instructions are important as you can not guarantee an employee is going to be the initial person finding the fire. Also during a time of fire people can panic and forget simple information therefore if there are clear instructions and identifying labels it can help people in a time of panic.

These signs are red in colour and should be clearly visible. For equipment such as extinguishers, multiple signs should be used for example a high-level location sign to indicate where the equipment is, an identification sign close by the equipment explaining what type of extinguisher it is and what type of fire it should be used on. Sometimes it may be necessary to have instructions for how to use the equipment however most modern fire extinguishers have instructions on them for how they should be used.

Fire action signs

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that all occupants of a building must be fully aware of the fire safety instructions. A reliable and cost-effective way of doing this is by using fire action signs as they display a variety of information from escape routes, fire fighting equipment and cautions to look out for. However, these signs are not considered a legal requirement however it is best practice to utilize these signs due to the amount of information given.

Fire action signs usually consist of mostly blue to indicate actions that must be taken however colours such as yellow and red can be used to highlight dangers, there might even be green to indicate assembly points or fire exits. These signs are best placed beside call points as they will help the user with what they should do next after triggering the alarm for example where to evacuate, what number to call and what they should NOT do.

Safe condition signs

Standard BS 5499 states that safe conditioning signs must be prevalent and clearly mark and display the location and instructions for first aid equipment as well as any instructions for those who have special needs for example evacuation chairs.

These signs are normally green to display first aid and a lack of danger, similar to escape and equipment location signs these should be displayed clearly.

Mandatory signs

Mandatory signs are meant to prevent a fire or at least minimize the risk and danger a fire can cause. Examples of mandatory fire signs would be “keep fire door shut” or “automatic fire door keep clear”.

Blue and white is the colour used for these signs as these are the universal colours for mandatory signs and symbolised that a specific behaviour MUST be followed. The signs should be placed on both sides of the door with the correct instructions (push, pull, press button etc)

Hazardous materials and atmosphere signs

These signs are used to inform/warn people that there may be a higher risk of fire in a particular area, it may highlight an action that can increase this risk for example smoking. These signs are normally found near storage rooms where flammable materials, oils, or gases would be stored.

These signs are yellow in colour to warn people of increased fire risk, depending on the severity and likelihood of the risk it would benefit to have a blue mandatory sign informing people of how they should avoid this increased risk.

Prohibition Signs

These signs are the exact opposite of mandatory signs as they indicate inappropriate actions and behaviours which all occupants must avoid as these actions will only increase the risk of fire. Some common examples of prohibition signs would be “no smoking”  & “in the event of a fire do not use this lift”.

These signs are red and white in colour, they usually have a picture of the prohibited action with a red cross going through to indicate that this action must be avoided.