Signs of the Times

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As we all know, fires can potentially strike at any time, in any place and perhaps more than any other hazard, they create a staggering variety of problems - not least of which is getting people out of a building safely.

One of the most important aspects of fire safety therefore is the signage. Fire safety signs are designed to offer guidance in times of crisis and exit signage is hugely important in public environments so that people can escape effectively in an emergency.

Standardisation of fire safety signs

Over the years many signs had been developed throughout the world, leading to a plethora of different symbols to visually explain directions. However, given the massive migration of people within the EU, a lack of standardisation can potentially lead to confusion and increase the likelihood of accidents. More and more people now live and/or work in countries in which the official language may not be their native tongue, so a more common and understandable method of relaying important safety messages is more important than ever before.

The implementation of ISO 7010 in January 2013, brought an international standard for consistent safety sign regulation across Europe, covering accident prevention, fire protection, health hazard information and emergency evacuation. Its aim was to regularise signage throughout the EU by using the same design hence minimising the risk of potentially dangerous situations and to provide a standardised, easy-to-understand message with graphics as well as words when required.

Under ISO 7010 there are specific requirements regarding the shape, composition and colour of safety signs and any sign must contain a symbol or pictogram to clearly convey its message, independent of any written word(s). The standard requirements for each type of sign are shown below:

Types of Signs

Prohibitive Signs
These signs indicate actions or equipment which are prohibited and are displayed on a circular sign with black pictogram on white background and red border and diagonal line.  Prohibitive sign

Warning Signs
These signs give warning of potential risks and are displayed on a triangular sign with black pictogram on yellow background with black border.

Warning sign

Mandatory Signs
These type of signs show a course of action which must be taken and are displayed on a circular sign with white pictogram on blue background.

Mandatory sign

Escape Routes and Safety Equipment Signs

These signs are either rectangular or square with  a white pictogram on green background.

Safety equipment sign

 Fire Equipment
The location of firefighting equipment is shown on a square sign with white pictogram on a red background.

Firefighting equipment sign


You can learn more about International Standards at The International Organisation for Standardisation (

Under the Fire Safety Order 2005 and health and safety legislation, the Responsible Person of a building has a duty to ensure safety signs are compliant with best practice i.e. BS EN ISO 7010. They are required by law to identify hazards and mark the location of emergency equipment, means of escape, and safety appliances with appropriate signs.

Life is precious and property and assets matter. Our full range of Fire Safety Signs can be viewed on the website and for help and advice on all fire protection and safety products, please contact the Fire Depot team on 0330 999 2233 or email us at