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Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Safety Signs – Part 180

December 12, 2022 11:35 am

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 179, LWF looked at fire equipment signage. In part 180, we consider hazard signs and prohibition signs and look at the regulations covering signage.

Fire hazard signs

Fire hazard signs or general hazard signs as they are sometimes known is illustrated with a black triangle with an exclamation mark in the centre with a yellow filling. It will be accompanied by a supplementary sign indicating what the hazard is. For instance, one of the most commonly seen reads ‘in case of fire avoid use of lift’.

BS 5499 contains standard graphic warning signs to indicate the following meanings, which may be used with supplementary signing. They are:

  • Beware flammable material
  • Beware oxidising material
  • Beware exploding material

The three signs come within the scope of the Health and Safety Regulations 1996 – Safety Signs and Signals – Guidance on Regulations.

The fire hazard sign may also be used with supplementary wording to indicate ‘no escape’ when doors or routes that might appear to provide a route to safety do not do so.

Prohibition signs

A prohibition sign is red on a white background, circular with a diagonal line through it – very similar to the ‘no entry’ sign seen on UK roads. A pictogram may be inserted into the circle with the line through it to illustrate what is not allowed.

Commonly, prohibition signs are seen with a lit cigarette inside the circle, with a line through it to indicate ‘No smoking’.

BS 5499 also contains graphical symbols indicating certain other warnings, as follows:

  • Naked flames are prohibited
  • Water must not be used as an extinguishing agent

As with fire hazard signs, the pictograms are specified by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

For other types of prohibition, the sign may be used without a pictogram in the centre, but with a supplementary worded sign for clarification.

In part 181 of this series, LWF will begin to look at fire detection and fire alarm systems, beginning with why they are needed in many types of premises. 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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