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The Importance of Fire Safety Signs

Jul 6, 2008
Fire safety signs are a must for letting people know what they should do in case there is a fire. They are legally required to be posted in some locations. If you are the owner of a business or some other building which is accessible to the public, then you likely have to post fire safety signs. Where appropriate, fire safety signs are used primarily to help people find their way to escape routes during a fire. These signs can also help in finding emergency equipment and emergency fire phones. The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations passed in 1996 requires these signs. Any fire safety signs you buy must comply with this law.

Fire safety signs are often made of photo luminescent material. They can therefore be read even in the dark, when they give off the light which they absorb during the day. Multiple sign types are available and are equally compliant with the law. The EEC or British standards may be used for signs pointing the way to exits, equipment and phones.

There are other kinds of fire safety standards as well. If you already have these signs in your building, make sure that they are easy to read and have pictogram s which are easily understandable and have the correct text as well. All signs in a single building should be of the same type. The British standard is the most widely understood by people and as such is recommended.

Any escape route sign should have extra text to ensure that it is understood. Fire exits must be indicated by clearly visible arrows pointing towards them along with the correct text. To indicate that an exit is purely intended for emergencies, then a special exit sign should be used for this rather than combining two types of sign which will confuse people. Even people who are confused and possibly panicked must be able to read these signs, after all.

Signs must be large enough that they can be seen and read with ease. A sign which is luminescent is easier to spot than one which is non-luminescent. A smaller photo luminescent sign which is smaller can be used where a larger sign which was not luminescent would be needed. A non luminescent sign has to be a size of at least 200x600mm if it will be seen from a distance of 20 m. A luminescent sign at the same distance has only to be 340 x120mm.

Signs also have to prominently placed, without having to compete for attention with other signs. Guidelines are in place for where fire safety signs should be positioned. Over doors and in open spaces a sign must be at least 2.5 m above the floor. When wall mounted, a sign must be at least 1.7 m high. In large open spaces, the height varies.

Contact your local fire authorities if you have questions about fire safety signs and their use. If you already have signs which are in compliance with the regulations, you shouldn't need to make changes. Signs which follow different regulations (for instance, to obtain a fire certificate) also meet the standards.

Posting these fire safety signs in stairwells, hallways, offices, etc. is a legal requirement in the UK, as well as a good idea for safety in the event of a fire. Check your signs to ensure that your building is in compliance with the regulations. Having the correct signs in place can save lives!
About the Author
Peter Thomas is part of the team at www.fire-safety-equipment.co.uk, the UKs leading provider of fire extinguishers,fire signs,fire blankets and fire safety equipment.
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