Safety Signs Blog

Fire Action Notices what is the best way of effectively conveying your fire evacuation procedures

2nd March 2011 | Fire Signs

Posted by Darren Joint.

In recent years safety sign makers have been hit with the dilemma of finding a balance between offering comprehensive fire safety and evacuation procedures whilst keeping fire notice text concise and to the point. Today’s article looks at what essential text needs to be conveyed on a fire action notice, where this sign should be positioned and what designs are best at conveying your message.

Critically, a fire action notice must address five key areas:

1. Raising the alarm: This section should advise occupants on the recommended way to raise the alarm, whether it is verbally or through using an available fire alarm call point.

2. Fire Brigade: Ensuring the fire brigade is called. The sign used here differs depending on whether the fire brigade is contacted automatically by the fire alarm system or if the evacuees have to ring the fire brigade themselves.

3. Assembly Point: A blank space is left for the assembly point’s location to be identified.

4. Lift: With only a tiny fraction of lifts being suitable for use in a fire, invariably where the sign is used in a building that has lift the sign selected should have the words “In the event of a fire do not use this lift”

5. Do not collect belongings: This standard practice text invariably appears on most fire action signs. Although this advice is often ignored it is good practice to reinforce this message.

Positioning your fire action signs

Although little is mentioned in either the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 or BS 5499 about where to locate a fire action notice, the collective wisdom on positioning fire action notices is that they should go next to every fire alarm call point and next to the final fire exits. This is so the person raising the alarm knows what to do next and so all evacuees leaving a building through an unfamiliar exit know where to go and what further action may be required (eg ring fire brigade).

(A) – Standard Fire Action Sign

Fire Action Notice style MF325

(B) – Pictorial Fire Action Sign

Pictorial Fire Action Notice style MF327

In terms of how the sign should appear, both the signs shown above sell well. However, increasingly sales figures backed up by real-life sign surveys suggest the more pictorial, less wordy signs are the sign type of choice.

Certainly, sign B is more in tune with the very essence of the BS5499, which puts greater reliance on the picture and less on the text. It is also more appropriate in a panic situation. After all, if a fire is taking hold of a building no one will have the time, patience or nerve to read Sign A in its entirety.

In conclusion, it is worth saying that both signs are entirely acceptable in the UK. However, the more pictorial sign is arguably far more effective at quickly relaying the essential five key points of a fire action routine.

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