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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Safety Signs – Part 177

November 21, 2022 12:45 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 176, LWF began to look at fire safety signage.  In part 177, we discuss safe condition signs.

If it were to be agreed upon which was the most important fire safety sign, it would almost certainly be a safe condition sign. Specifically, those signs indicating a fire exit or the route to the fire exit. The greatest single fire safety responsibility of a building owner/operator is to ensure all occupants can safely evacuate if there is a fire and the fire exit/fire route safe condition signs are an important part of that process.

The symbol of the ‘running man’ is internationally agreed and specified in the UK by BS 5499. The man in the symbol usually runs to the right unless the escape route changes direction and then he would run to the left in conjunction with an arrow. If the escape route were to change direction to the right, he would run to the right with an arrow. The symbol is green and white to indicate this is the safe route.

The running man symbol is intended to indicate haste and not to indicate that the building occupants should run to the exit. In fact, running during an evacuation is unsafe and can cause additional problems and even collisions between the people attempting to evacuate using the escape route.

The Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations requires all emergency escape signs to include a pictogram and an arrow in any circumstance where directional guidance is necessary. Since 1998, this requirement became retrospective, requiring building owners and occupiers to update their fire safety signage to reflect the requirement. The running man pictogram shown in the HSE regulations is slightly different to that shown in BS 5499, however either is acceptable to the fire and rescue authorities.

Usually, it is not necessary to use fire exit route signs on the normal route taken to exit the building, but it is necessary to use them on any which are not usual. In all cases where an exit can’t be seen or the escape route is not obvious, exit symbols should be supplemented with directional arrows.

In part 178 of this series, LWF will continue to look at safe condition signs. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 35 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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