fire safety signs

The following information is provided for guidance only, and should not be used as a reference for legal requirements.

“Signs must be used, where necessary, to help people identify escape routes, find firefighting equipment and emergency fire telephones.  These signs are required under the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 and must comply with the provisions of those regulations”        

HM government guide 'fire safety risk assessment'.

The signs below are coloured as for photo-luminescent signs, which absorb energy and glow in the dark.

A full range of signs can be obtained online at:


EU sign (Now, or soon to be obsolete)

BS EN 7010



A third sign (right) is preferred by the NHS which is similar to the BS version, but includes flames.

NHS sign

This sign (left) was recently observed which although modelled on the EU sign left us mystified!


There has for many years been confusion over which of the above designs is correct. Technically they were both acceptable, although there should not have been a mixture of British Standard (BS) and EU signs in the same premises.


In order to make signs consistent internationally, the EEC adopted BS EN 7010 as a 'European Norm' in January 2013. This new standard is based on the BS version above however the old style EU signs will probably remain acceptable for some time to come.


Our advice would be to go for the new standard in new build situations, or where BS signs are already installed. If EU signs are installed they should be consistent throughout the premises, i.e. there should not be a mixture of BS and EU signs as before, however we think it would be wise to consider replacing all EU style signs, especially in public buildings.




Apart from a few exceptions listed below, every escape route sign should incorporate 3 elements, a graphic symbol (running man), directional arrow and supplementary text.

Directional arrows should be provided 'wherever confusion might otherwise occur, except where this could cause confusion, e.g. vomitory exits within sports stadia or storey exits opening directly onto a half landing; and within a cinema, theatre or similar auditorium where the escape route signs are internally illuminated, the arrow element of the signs may be omitted when the signs are sited immediately above the exits'.

In other words, directional arrows are necessary in all but the above scenarios, even on the final exit.


Graphic symbol,

Front lit

Graphic symbol,

Back lit







Progress forward, forward and through or forward and up from here

Progress down from here

Progress to the left from here

Progress to the right from here
Progress down to the left Progress up to the left
Progress up to the right Progress down to the right

USE of SUPPLEMENTARY TEXT - Every escape route sign should include supplementary text to assist in the understanding of the sign.

EXIT - Used to indicate the conventional route leading out of a building.

FIRE EXIT - Used to indicate an escape route provided specifically to be used in the event of an evacuation.

EXIT for emergency use only - Similar to FIRE EXIT, but should not be used close to FIRE EXIT signs. They should also be used instead of FIRE EXIT and STAFF ONLY or PRIVATE signs together, which could cause confusion.





"Signs should be sufficiently large and clear so that they can be easily seen and understood"

Safety signs and Signals Regulations 1996


Luminescent signs can be seen more easily than plain signs, and can therefore be smaller.

The following sizes are in mm, and are for guidance only. Sizes should be assessed on the above criteria in each individual case.







Signs should be located in the normal field of vision, and should be prominent, taking precedence over all other signs, ie they should not have to ‘compete’ with other signs

FIXING HEIGHTS (From floor to base of sign)

Over doors & open spaces: 2 – 2.5m to the base of the sign;

Wall fixed: 1.7 – 2m to the base of the sign.

Large open spaces such as factories and warehouses: as appropriate.


This guidance note is available in pdf format


Fire Safety Signs can be obtained from

Have you seen the new training aid - The WHAT NOW ??? - Brilliant, simple and providing tremendous benefit during evacuation drills and exercises.


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