What is a Fire Action Notice Sign

Many organisations are not aware of the laws and regulations surrounding Fire Action policies and Fire Action Signs. This guide has been created to help organisations in the UK understand the regulations and requirements around Fire Action Signage.

What is a Fire Action Notice?

A Fire action notice (or often referred to as Fire action sign) provides simple clear instructions to staff and visitors on what action to take if anyone working in or visiting a building encounters a fire on the premises.

There are various types of Fire Action Notice signs, designed to suit various sized organisations and building layouts. The sign layout typically contain a number of steps to follow (eg; 1-2-3) in the event of an emergency and has "steps or sections" to the sign that are usually separated using clear blocks of colour and with simple headings or instructions what to do in the event of a fire.

Examples of various different Fire Action Sign designs

Fire Action Notices state clear instructions, and often include the following phrases:

  • Operate a Fire Call Point or Sound an Alarm
  • Leave the building via the nearest Exit
  • Do not use Lifts
  • Call the Fire Brigade
  • Do not return to the building until instructed to do so
  • Report to a Fire Assembly point

Writable Fire Action Notice Signs:

Some variations contain writable sections to the sign, that can be filled in to suit your organisation (such as where your Fire Assembly Point is located or the number to call the Fire Brigade on).

Fire Action Notices are often available in a range of materials, most typically printed on hard plastic or vinyl self-adhesive stickers. They are also are available in photo-lumeniscent (Glow in the dark) materials which can provide increased visibility in darkened or smoke filled environments.

Examples of Glow in Dark Fire Action Notices:

Safety Sign Materials

Safety Sign Materials (Click for larger version)

Do you need a Fire Action Notice?

Under the Fire Safety Regulatory Reform (order 2005), it is a legal requirement that all occupants of a building must be informed of the fire safety instructions, and an effective solution is the display fire action signs within it.

If you are responsible for running a commercial premises you should use Fire Action Signs, but they fall under the standard of “Best Practice Guidelines” and are currently not required by UK law.

Where should Fire Action Signs be located?

In reality, signs such as Fire Action Notices are often only read in the case of an Emergency, hence the simple multi-step instructions with clear colour and icons.

A basic principle for the display of fire action notices is that all visitors and staff within the building should be able to see at least one fire action sign on their way to their destination.

They should be fitted between 1.2m to 1.8m from the floor and at important locations throughout the building, especially above fire alarm call points, or near communal and reception areas which will offer the greatest opportunity for them to be noticed by staff and visitors.

Fire Action Notice Sign recommend height and location

Fire Sign Standards and the Codes explained

The BS 5499 (British Standards) series of standards were the foundation for best practice safety sign use throughout the UK. However most of the BS 5499 standards have now been superseded by BS EN ISO 7010 which was introduced in 2011. Its aim was to bring about consistency in safety signage internationally. It replaced the previous BS5499-5 standard.

British Standards are not law - they are codes of practice generally affecting only new products as opposed to those previously produced. In some cases it is possible for standards to be given a type of legal status when they are referred to within legislation or government-issued guidance and Approved Codes of Practice.

The following example shows the new BS EN ISO 710 compliant sign symbols - (click for larger image)
BS-ISO-710 Safety Sign Symbols Guide

Does your organisation need a Fire Alarm?

Fire alarm regulations say that all company premises must have “an appropriate fire detection system” In simple terms if you have a fire it can easily be detected and employees and visitors can easily be warned.

You might not need a fire alarm system if all the below are true:

  • If you shout fire and all occupants in the building can here you from where you are
  • A fire can be easily seen if it started anywhere in the building
  • You do not have vulnerable people within the building
  • You do not store or use high risk substances
  • You have high risk activities within the building such as cooking or welding
  • Your building is single storey, small, simple and open plan

If any of the above are do not apply to you, then you probably need a fire alarm.( If you are unsure then your fire risk assessment will confirm as such.)

If you do not have a Fire Alarm system, you should consider a Fire Action Notices that states the wording "Raise the Alarm" instead of "Raise the Fire Alarm":

Further Information

A useful guide to fire risk assessments within the work place can be found on the Governments website at:

UK Fire Safety Law and guidance is located at:

The HSE has a useful general "Safety Signs and Signal Guide" at:

Information about current Fire Legalisation can be found at:

The UK Safety Store accepts no liability of any kind whatsoever in respect of advice or guidance on information contained within this webpage.