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Fire safety signs – complying with the new law

All high-rise residential buildings in England are required by law to have fire safety wayfinding signs and clear markings identifying each floor and also individual flat numbers.

This is one of a raft of measures in the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 that came into force from 23 January 2023 and followed the publication of guidance on 6 December 2022.

These regulations are designed to improve fire safety in blocks of flats practically and cost-effectively. Sadly, they are a response to the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in London, which cost many lives and destroyed homes.

An inquiry into the cause of the fire and what should be done to make sure such a disaster is less likely to happen again, made a number of recommendations, the majority of which have been incorporated into the new regulations.

M112 Fire Escape Keep Clear Sign
S445 Fire Exit Left Sign

Matter of responsibility

While the inquiry did not recommend making wayfinding signs a legal requirement, the Government decided to do so. It accepted that there was a danger of firefighters becoming disorientated by smoke in high rise buildings. It was already the law for all new blocks of flats above 11 metres to have wayfinding signage. Now, the signage must extend to all existing high-rise buildings. The Government has also suggested that owners of any other multi-occupied residential buildings should consider installing signs as a matter of responsibility.

Rules about the positioning and look of the signs are very specific:

  • They must be installed on every landing of a protected stairway, corridor/lobby into which a firefighting lift opens
  • The typeface should be sans-serif and with a minimum letter height of 50mm
  • Numbers indicating the floors should be at least 75mm
  • They should be mounted between 1.7m and 2m above floor level
  • Text should have a contrasting background and be easy to read in low lighting or by torchlight

Signs indicating the flat numbers on each storey should be installed immediately below the floor identification signs, with no more than a 50mm gap between them. The wording should show flat numbers from lowest to highest, it 1-10. They should have a sans-serif typeface and have a letter height at least half that in the floor indicator signs. Where flats are in more than one direction, you need to include arrows. As with the floor signs, flat signage must have a contrasting background and be easy to read in low lighting or when lit by a torch.

Guidance update

Updates to the regulations, which will come into effect from October include making it easier for enforcement authorities to take action against non-compliance. New fire safety guidance comes into force on 1 October 2023 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Display Signs are experienced in helping customers to comply with fire safety regulations. We can supply you with clear, legible floor and flat number signage that meets the above-mentioned specific rules and requirements. If you would like further information and advice, please feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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