Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (2023)

All business premises need at least 2 or 3 fire safety signs.

Working out which ones you need and where you should put them can be confusing.

Below we provide a simple guide.

If you are responsible for any type of commercial premises, you may already know that you need fire safety signs. Fire exit signs are probably the ones we are all most familiar with but there are lots of different categories of fire signage required by the two main pieces of fire safety legislation governing fire safety signs:

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – also known as the ‘RRO’ – is the cornerstone of fire safety in the UK and brings together all laws relating to fire safety in one place, not just fire safety signs.The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 apply specifically to safety signage.

We provide a simplified guide to the RRO.

So, what do you need? Well, there are 4 main applications of fire safety signs in the UK:

  1. A safety sign explaining what to do in case of fire (known as a ‘Fire Action Notice’)
  2. Safety signs marking fire exit routes, doors and assembly points
  3. Safety signs showing the location of fire-fighting equipment such as extinguishers
  4. Warning and Prohibition safety signs such as ‘Danger’ or ‘No Smoking’

Fire safety signs are photo-luminescent so that the glow of the signs will help occupants make their way out of the premises or find fire-fightingequipment if the lightingfails during a fire.

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Which signs you require depends on the layout of your premises, the nature of their use, and the fire-fighting equipment you have. If you have a Fire Risk Assessment this document will outline exactly which fire safety signs you need. We explain more about each category of sign below.

1. ‘Fire Action Notice’ – what to do in case of fire

The Fire Action Notice’s purpose is to make sure that anyone working in or visiting your building knows what to do if they discover a fire or if they need to evacuate the building.

These are usuallypre-printed signs with spaces to fill in information such as:

  • The phone number to call the fire brigade
  • The exit to use to leave the building
  • Where the assembly point is
  • Any additional instructions specific to the building

There are different types of fire action signs so you can pick the one that best suits your premises.

All commercial premises must display a Fire Action Notice. Best practice guidelines recommend that you display a Fire Action Notice next to every Fire Alarm call-point, and at every final exit door, where they are most likely to be seen in the event of fire.

Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (1)

2. Fire Exit Routes, Doors, and Assembly Points

Fire Exit Signs

If your commercial premises are small with a simple layout, you may not need a fire exit sign. Fire exit signs are not a requirement if it is ‘obvious’ where the exit is, for example when there is just one door at the front of a small shop where it is clear that would be the means of escape.

For more complex buildings however, fire exit signs are a necessity. What you specifically need comes down to how easily occupants would be able to find their way out of the building in the event of fire, especially if they’re not familiar with the layout.

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In some cases you may need a series of directional signs leading occupants along the shortest route to escape. These are familiar to us as green exit signs with arrows indicating which way to go.

Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (2)

Fire Exit Doors

All fire exit doors must carry a ‘Fire door, keep shut’ sign. This is an example of a ‘mandatory’ notice, which simply means that it gives an instruction which must be followed for the building to be safe from fire.

Depending on the type of exits you have, you may also need to provide instructions on how to operate the door, or indicate that a door opens automatically.

Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (3)
Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (4)

Fire Assembly Points

Your fire assembly point should befar enough away from the buildingto avoid interference with the fire brigadeand danger from falling debriscaused by the fire. This means it needs to be clearly signposted.

You may also need to take into consideration the type of occupants who will need to evacuate the building in the event of fire, making sure that the Fire Assembly Point is suitablefor the young, old or disabled.

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3. Fire equipment signs

In the event of a fire, it’s vitalthat occupants know where to find fire-fightingequipment, and which equipment they can use, depending on the type of fire.

This is so the fire can be dealt with while it is still in its early stages. 95% of fires tackled with an extinguisher are extinguished within 2 minutes, so being able to locate the right type of fire extinguisher quickly is absolutely critical to the safety of your business.

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Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (6)

Fire extinguisher ID signs come in many formats so you can pick the one best suited to the location of your extinguishers. They can be fixed to a wall, or attached to an extinguishers stand.

You may also need to provide fire safety signs for equipment such as hose reels and dry risers if you have them on your premises.

Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (7)
Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (8)

Perhaps most importantly of all, your fire alarm call-points must be clearly sign-posted so that occupants can easily find where to raise the alarm if they spot a fire. Every call-point should have the relevant fire alarm sign, and if you also post Fire Action Notices here, the person raising the alarm will have all the information they need to proceed.

Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (9)

4.‘Warning’ and ‘Prohibition’ fire safety signs

Warning signs

Warning signs are generally yellow and black, and often (but not always) triangular. They are designed to alert occupants to danger.

In terms of fire safety, you will generally need a fire warning sign when you have flammable substances on the premises, such as gas or oil.

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Prohibition signs give ‘Do Not…’ style warnings in areas where there is a specific risk of fire. These are frequently used in conjunction with Warning signs, for example to prohibit smoking in an area where there are flammable materials.

Warning signs are usually circular, with a red band around the outside and a diagonal red line across the centre.

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Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (11)

Often warning signs and prohibition signs are combined into one fire safety notice.

Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations (12)


We hope this guide about all of the different categories of fire signage has been useful to you. In summary, if you are responsible for the fire safety of commercial premises, these are the signs that you must have and may need to have.

  • Fire Action Notice – mandatory for all premises
  • Fire exit signs – needed for all but the smallest & simplest of properties
  • Fire Extinguisher ID sign – as extinguishers are mandatory, all premises musthave at least one extinguisher ID sign
  • Fire alarm call point signs – if you have a fire alarm, then call point signs are mandatory
  • Other fire equipment signs – if you have a hose reel or a dry riser, you will need to signpost them
  • Warning & Prohibition signs – if you have an extra risk of fire on your premises you will probably need these

If you would like specific advice on fire safety signs please feel free to get in touch, or take a look at our fire safety sign services here.

Contact us

Check out more of our fire safety guides below:

Fire Alarm Regulations

(Video) A guide to the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Fire Extinguisher Regulations


Fire Safety Signs - a simple guide to UK regulations? ›

What are the UK Regulations on Fire Safety?
  • All fire safety signs should clearly and effectively mark escape routes and exits.
  • Fire doors and escape routes must be clearly marked.
  • Signage must be displayed along an exit route.
  • All fire safety signs should be illuminated.
  • Escape route signs should feature direction arrows.
May 25, 2022

What is the British standard for fire safety signage? ›

BS 5499 covers all safety warning sign, including fire safety signs and is compatable with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

What fire safety signs do I need? ›

A safety sign explaining what to do in case of fire (known as a 'Fire Action Notice') Safety signs marking fire exit routes, doors and assembly points. Safety signs showing the location of fire-fighting equipment such as extinguishers. Warning and Prohibition safety signs such as 'Danger' or 'No Smoking'

Do all fire doors need signage? ›

Fire door signs

While many businesses utilise automatic fire door closers, which activate when the fire alarm goes off, all fire doors require adequate signage. Fire door signs are blue and display a mandatory action to maintain fire safety.

Do you need signage for fire extinguishers? ›

The sign as a whole is not legally mandated but certain parts are- the fire extinguisher symbol is required to be displayed at all fire points, and appropriate training should be given for all fire safety equipment. These are both included in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005.

Do I need illuminated fire exit signs? ›

Fire exit and escape route signs

All escape route signs require adequate illumination to ensure they can be seen and understood. They should also be visible under power loss conditions which may require artificial illumination.

Are safety signs a legal requirement? ›

Employers must provide safety signs if there is a significant risk that can't be avoided or controlled in any other way, such as through safe systems of work or engineering controls. There is no need to provide safety signs if they don't help reduce the risk or if the risk isn't significant.

What colour are mandatory fire signs? ›

Mandatory signs are normally circular or oblong and are blue and white. These colours symbolise a specific, mandatory action or behaviour which must be undertaken by the reader.

What legislation covers safety signs? ›

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

Do fire doors need signs on both sides? ›

Conventional Fire doors should be marked on both sides.

Do fire doors need signage on both sides? ›

These guidance documents state that "Fire doors that have been fitted with self-closing devices should be labelled 'Fire door – keep shut' on both sides.

Do fire exit signs need to be green? ›

The rods in the human eye are more sensitive to green light, so these signs are easier to see in dark conditions.

Where are fire exit signs required? ›

Fire escape signs are needed so that a route can be found from any room that has more than one exit, all corridors, walkways and stairs. It must not be assumed that everyone will know all safe routes through the building.

What are the four types of safety signs? ›

What Are The Four Types of Safety Signs?
  • Emergency.
  • Warning.
  • Prohibition.
  • Mandatory.
May 28, 2021

Where should fire action notices be displayed? ›

Best practice suggests fire action notices should be displayed next to every fire alarm call point and next to the final fire exits. This gives the relevant information at a glance to the person raising the alarm and any further action that maybe required.

What does a blue circle mean fire safety? ›

What does a blue circle mean in fire safety? Blue circular signs are used to indicate mandatory actions in relation to fire safety, e.g. 'fire door keep shut'.

What colour are fire equipment signs UK? ›

Fire equipment signs consist of a red rectangle or square with the pictogram in white positioned centrally on the sign.

What height should fire exit signs be? ›

In terms of mounting, the general requirements are that: signs mounted above doors should be at a height of between 2.0m and 2.5m above the floor. signs on walls should be mounted between 1.7m and 2.0m above the floor.

Do fire exit signs have to be photoluminescent? ›

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 consolidated all existing fire legislation like the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997. However, the Order's guidance notes do not state explicitly that only photoluminescent signs should be used.

How should exit signs be displayed? ›

The sign must consist of plain, legible letters and be a distinctive color that stands out from the background. All exit route doors must lack furnishings, decorations, or equipment that obscure the exit or the exit sign. The line-of-sight to an exit sign must be unobstructed at all times.

What Colour is used for fire exit signature? ›

While the colour green is related to safety, it means "safe" and "go," making it clear to the public that they should remain calm and follow the signs. This means that in case of a fire emergency, people will run to the green sign and avoid running to the red one.

What are the 6 pack regulations? ›

Other 'six-pack' regulations cover heating, lighting and ventilation at work, the safe use of computer screens and keyboards, handling heavy or awkward loads, rest breaks, and personal protective equipment. Details on the six-pack of regulations can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Do blue signs display mandatory instructions? ›

Blue safety signs are known as mandatory signs, which demonstrate that a specific behaviour must be undertaken before proceeding, this might be applying safety glasses when working with chemicals or wearing a hard helmet when entering a construction site.

What is the main colour of safety signs stating that you must not do something? ›

3. Prohibition safety signs (Red) Prohibition signs are used to signify the prohibition of a certain act or event. These health and safety signs are required to be red.

What do yellow fire signs mean? ›

Yellow fire safety signs carry warning messages and are triangular in shape. They feature a black symbol that indicates the type of hazard in a specific area. An example of a yellow warning message is a fire risk sign.

What do yellow safety signs mean? ›

Yellow / Amber signs are warning signs, meaning to be careful, take precautions or examine. Blue safety signs mean that a sign is mandatory, and that specific behaviour or action should be carried out, such as wearing protective equipment. Green signs signal an emergency escape or first-aid available.

What do the Colours mean on safety signs? ›

Green: Green is safety related and means there is no danger present. This color is commonly used for first aid signs or signs indicating exits. Blue: Provides information about a particular item or area. This information doesn't necessarily have to be safety related, such as property policies.

What do blue safety signs mean? ›

Blue safety signs are known as mandatory signs, which demonstrate that a specific behaviour must be undertaken before proceeding, this might be applying safety glasses when working with chemicals or wearing a hard helmet when entering a construction site.

Does a kitchen door need to be a fire door? ›

No. If you don't already have fire doors in your home, standard doors are fine. However, if you wish to apply extra safety measures to keep you and your family safe, then they are a great addition – you just need to consider the following: * Check the fire door will fit your existing doorframe.

Do final exit doors need to be fire doors? ›

By enabling the swift passage of people to a place of safety, the final exit door will have performed its function; it does not have to be a fire door to accomplish this. Fire exit doors can also be opened from the outside, if for example a panic bar with a key lock override is fitted.

What is EN1634? ›

EN 1634-1 is a European standard for testing fire-resisting door sets. PDS now tests door sets to EN1634-1 as standard practice, this has overtaken testing to the British standard BS 476-22 in many cases.

What format should all fire escape signs be? ›

Fire escape signs are green and white - safe condition. They must comprise of a pictogram, an arrow (except a final exit sign on BS5499-4), and the words Fire Exit.

What is the BS number for emergency lighting? ›

BS 5266: emergency lighting.

What is the purpose of prohibition signs? ›

These signs send a clear message to all who see them that some actions are either not safe or are outright not permitted. Prohibition signs are a crucial component to maintaining safe practice and order in the workplace, whilst also helping to adhere to health, safety, and sign regulations.


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