Guide to Understanding Fire Exit Signs
As we know, fire is dangerous and can have a catastrophic effect on the health and safety of your workers, therefore it is crucial to have your fire exit signs in good order. What does this entail? You may often have to plan what fire exit signs are necessary and where the most optimal places to install them would be.
Under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974, employers have a duty of care to employees to ensure they are safe from harm in the workplace – adequate fire signage can go a long way into meeting your fire safety obligations and increase the probability that your staff escape the scene of a fire and reach safety.
Crucially, as an employer, you must choose the right fire exit signs and install them in an optimal, logical and consistent way.
In today’s article, we will be understanding fire exit signs in the workplace.
Escape Routes: Where to Place Optimal Escape Route Signs
Before committing to the installation of any escape route signage, you must first assess the working environment and premises to find the primary escape route and escape protocol: you should place for the quickest and shortest pathway out of the building.
Once planning the primary escape route, you should always plan a secondary escape route for the situation where the outbreak of fire makes the primary route inaccessible or suboptimal.
Simplify the signage process for fire escape routes:
- Never install conflicting signs along the same route
- Escape signs should always be visible
- Escape signs should be consistently visible after passing a prior escape route sign
- Every change in direction on the escape route should be signed
- Final exit doors should have a clear sign installed above
Where to Place Fire Exit Signs
Adequate installation of fire exit signs should not create much room for confusion: they have been designed and revised to transcend language and cultural barriers, to ensure the highest chance of success in fire safety. However, two signs in particular do often create confusion and we must offer empathy and understanding when we consider that they may heighten panic if they are misunderstood during high-stress situations such as an outbreak of fire.
The two most commonly confused exit signs are up arrow and down arrow fire exit signs.
Up Arrow Fire Exit Signs
This type of fire exit sign is to be interpreted as instructing you to continue along the route so as to reach the eventual fire exit. This type of sign may also be used to signpost final exits, though this should not be the case if there is a ramp or step immediately after the final exit doors.
Down Arrow Fire Exit Signs
The fire exit sign which causes the most amount of confusion, this sign does not inform you to turn back. Instead, the intention behind this sign is to convey that you must continue along the route, but that you must progress down a level. This sign is commonly found at the head of a flight of stairs or a ramp.
Photoluminescent Signs: Are They Helpful?
Though not absolutely necessary, it is advisable to install photoluminescent signage, as they hugely aid readability and reliability, particularly in the event of a power outage.
Refuges For Disabled People In the Event of Fire
Workplaces must ensure safe refuge locations on all floors (except the ground floor) for those individuals who cannot escape unaided: of which, they must also be assisted out of the building by people other than the emergency fire services.
Each refuge point within the building must be signed appropriately and must also be installed with communication so that people are aware that the refuge point is occupied and somebody requires assistance in escaping the building.
Consider: should designated refuge points be located away from the escape route, direction signage may be necessary.
Mandatory Fire Safety Signage
Once the relevant fire escape routes have been planned and signage has been organised, you must also implement other fire safety signs:
- Fire Door Keep Shut signs
- Fire Escape Keep Clear signs
- Fire Alarm Call Points
- Fire Action Notice/s
- Extinguisher Availability signs
Did you find the guide to fire exit signs useful? If you liked our guide, please do consider leaving us a comment and expanding your fire safety knowledge with other crucial knowledge: