Fire signage: Why clear fire signs are crucial for safety

25 January 2024 in Construction, Fire Protection

Fire signage: Why clear fire signs are crucial for safety

fire sign

How is clear fire signage like a lifejacket? In the event of emergency, it helps you dive into lifesaving action, fast. When a fire breaks out, every second counts, and clear fire safety signage may mean the difference between a fast firefighting and evacuation response and a Titanic-level catastrophe. Learn why it’s crucial to display fire hazard warnings and show where to find firefighting equipment.

Why must you install fire safety signs?

Fire safety signs serve several crucial functions. Clear signage:

  • Is mandatory in many building types in South Africa according to the national regulations for fire protection
  • Displays vital information such as fire evacuation procedures, safe routes and exits to ensure safer, faster evacuations
  • Shows where to find fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire alarms and fire hydrants
  • Makes it easy for workers to locate exit routes and equipment irrespective of their spoken language by using common fire safety symbols
  • Gives guidance on fire safety equipment use, ensuring a more effective first response

What are the benefits of fire safety signs?

Fire signage is essential because:

  1. It ensures compliance for lawful business operation
  2. It shows where to find firefighting equipment so that extinguishing may begin as fast as possible
  3. Clear safety signage such as emergency exit signs allows swifter evacuation
  4. Fire signs provide markers visible in low light in the event a fire compromises electrical lighting systems. Self-illuminating, photoluminescent fire signage is particularly useful during power outages and conditions of low visibility
  5. Signs are customisable – custom signage fits the specific mix of fire hazards plus evacuation procedures required in an environment

What are common categories of fire signage? 

There are many types of safety signs used to improve fire protection. These include:

General directional signs

Signs that help people navigate through buildings (for example, signs that show where to find staircases, elevators, and other important access-related areas). This is vital fire signage in case of fire as it keeps the flow of occupants towards exits smooth, minimising confusion.

Warning signs

These are signs that alert people to potential fire hazards and dangerous areas (for example, areas containing flammable gases or where high voltages pose a fire risk, such as in electricity substations).

Prohibited activity signs

Signs that indicate activities that are forbidden in an area (for example, no smoking signs at petrol stations and other areas containing flammable materials due to fire risks).

Mandatory signs

Signs that inform people about actions that are crucial to comply with safety regulations, such as signs reminding individuals to don fire safety apparel.

Custom-made signs

Signs tailored to the needs or specific use-case of an industrial or other facility, such as signs warning about a specific chemical or other fire hazard.
Individual fire signage categories use specific colours. Warning or risk-of-danger signs are yellow, fire prevention and equipment signs are red, and blue is used for mandatory action and safety signage.
For more about signage and SABS-approved safety signs, see ERF’s fire safety signage products.

What to know about fire signage and compliance

Complying with fire safety regulations is important for many reasons. Proper signage:

  1. Contributes to ensuring the safety and protection of people on your premises.
  2. Helps to reduce liability for accidental injury that could be incurred if required signage isn’t displayed per regulations.
  3. Builds trust and confidence with customers and employees, who see that you’ve taken the care to display appropriate fire emergency evacuation and safety signage. 
  4. Helps you avoid fines that could be incurred after safety inspections, if these find that your premises don’t display the required markers. 

Compliance also dictates the shapes fire safety signs use (for example, fire equipment signs are usually square in shape and never round). 

Fire safety signs are regulated according to SANS 1186 parts one and five. Signs must be SABS-approved (approved by the South African Bureau of Standards). 

Contact ERF now for fire signage that is SABS-approved, compliant with regulations, and sure to make your premises safer.   

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