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What Is the British Standard for Fire Safety Signage?

12th Oct 2023

British Standard for Fire Safety Signage

Whether it’s business or residential property, fire safety should be a priority for all.

The importance of proper signage which is designed to direct, instruct, and inform occupants in the event of an emergency, cannot be overstated.

The British Standard for fire safety signage aims for consistency, clarity, and visibility. This helps ensure that - in the event of a fire - people inside these buildings can get out can quickly and safely.

British Standard BS 5499

The primary standard governing fire safety signage in the UK is BS 5499. It covers a range of detail, from the design and use of signs to where they are placed. Here's a brief overview:

Design Principles: The British Standard emphasises the importance of signs being easy to read and understand. It recommends the use of illustrations alongside text.

These “pictograms” are universally recognised. Contrasting colours, for instance, with a green background and white symbols or text, are crucial for visibility and understanding.

Sizes and Visibility: The size of the sign should be determined by where it is being displayed. Larger areas, such as warehouses or big halls, require larger signs to ensure they are easily seen from a distance.

Illumination and Luminance: BS 5499 says signs must either be illuminated, or made from photoluminescent material. This is vital, especially during power outages or when heavy smoke obscures regular lighting.

Placement and Positioning: Signs should be positioned at eye level and along escape routes. They should be clear of obstructions and should show the nearest exit, fire-fighting equipment, or safety assembly point.

Different Types of Fire Safety Signs

The British Standard divides fire safety signs into several categories based on their purpose:

Prohibition Signs: Similar in some ways to traffic signs, these are characterised by a circular shape with a red border. They indicate actions that are prohibited, for example, "No Smoking".

Warning Signs: These are triangular with a yellow or amber background. They are designed to highlight potential hazards, such as flammable materials.

Mandatory Signs: These are blue circular signs that dictate actions that must be taken, such as "Keep Fire Exit Clear".

Emergency Escape Signs: These signs are rectangular or square with a green background. They indicate escape routes, exits, or safe areas.

Fire-Fighting Equipment Signs: These signs indicate the location of fire-fighting equipment like fire extinguishers or hose reels.

The Importance of Sticking to the Rules:

Adhering to BS 5499 is not just about legal compliance; it's a matter of saving lives. In the event of a fire:

Clear Direction: Properly placed signs guide occupants swiftly towards exits, reducing panic and confusion.

Sharing Information: Mandatory signs remind occupants what they should and shouldn’t do, like not using elevators during a fire.

Are you prepared in case of a fire emergency? Equip your team with essential knowledge! Join our Staff Fire Safety Awareness Training now.


The British Standard for fire safety signage (BS 5499) is an integral part of the UK's fire safety regulations. By outlining requirements for the design, placement, and type of signs, it’s there to enhance the safety of building occupants and to reduce potential injury in the event of a fire.

It's the Law:

Ensuring a property, whether it's a business establishment or a residential building, adheres to these standards is a legal requirement and a moral duty.

It guarantees that in the face of a fire, occupants are provided with the necessary guidance and information to get out quickly and safely. Remember, fire safety is a collective responsibility.

By partnering with a reputable company such as Red Box Fire Control, we can all play a part in creating safer spaces for all.


Our business is about saving lives and property. Stay safe and make our business, your business!  Contact us today!


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Red Box Fire Control is proud to celebrate over 35 years in the fire safety industry.

Over this time we've grown in knowledge and expertise, focussing on supporting businesses with their compliance in a friendly yet efficient manner.

We are confident that we're able to provide our customers with a high level of professionalism and industry insight. Add to this our commitment to integrity, and when it comes to fire safety you can expect peace of mind unmatched by other suppliers.

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