Fire safety signs are an important tool to help people know what to do in the event of a fire. They're also required by law to be posted in some locations. If you own a business, or other publicly accessible building, you may have to provide fire safety signs. Signs are required to be used where appropriate to help people identify possible escape routes. They also help emergency equipment be found and help point out emergency fire phones. These signs are required under the Heath and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations of 1996. Any fire safety signs that you purchase and post must comply with these regulations. |
Many fire safety signs are made of photoluminescent materials. That allows them to be read both in the light and in the dark, since they absorb energy during the day and glow when light is not available. There are multiple sign types which are legal for use, which causes confusion in some people. You may use either the EEC standard sign or the British Standard sign when pointing out exits, firefighting equipment, or telephones.
Other sign types exist. If you have them in your building already, make sure that they are clear and readable, have obvious and easy to understand pictograms, and are accompanied by the right text. It's important to make sure that all signage in a single building or on a single property is the same, also. Don't mix sign types. If you're in doubt over a standard to choose, the British Standard version is recommended, since it's most widely recognized and understood.
Escape route signs should be accompanied by supplementary text to make sure that it's easily understandable. Fire exit routes should be clearly indicated by arrows pointing in the correct direction, as well as the right types of text. If you are indicating that an exit is for emergency use only, be sure to use a special sign for this, rather than a fire exit sign combined with a staff only or "private" sign, which may cause confusion in the event of a fire. Fire safety signs must be clearly readable even by people who are confused and stressed, if they're going to do their job properly.
Make sure that signs are large enough to easily be understood and seen. However, a sign that luminesces is easier to see than one which does not. Thus, a smaller photoluminescent sign can be used where a larger standard one would be required. Nonluminescent signs which are to be viewed at a distance of up to twenty metres must be at least two hundred by six hundred mm. A luminescent sign, viewed at a similar distance, would need to be only three hundred forty by one hundred twenty mm.
Signs must also be located prominently, in the normal field of vision. They should take precedence over all other signs in the area, with no need to compete for visual precedence. Guidelines have been established for heights at which fire safety signs should be fixed. For instance, over doors, and in open spaces, a sign should be at least two to two and a half metres up. When fixed on the wall, a sign should be 1.7 to two metres up, and in large open spaces, the height may vary.
If you have any questions or concerns about the use of fire safety signs, contact your local enforcing authority (most likely the fire authority). If you have existing fire safety signs, and they are already in compliance with current regulations, you shouldn't have to make any changes. Some signs that complied with different regulations, in order to obtain a fire certificate for instance, will also work, because the same basic sign pattern is followed, even if details are different.
Posting fire safety signs in the correct locations (stairwells, work areas, offices, hallways, and near any exit) is an import safety step, as well as a legal requirement in the UK. Make sure that your building is in compliance with regulations by checking your signage. Remember, if you have any questions, contact a fire official to find out what you should do. The right signage could mean a lot in an emergency.
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