Fire Extinguisher Sign


The four main applications of fire extinguisher safety signs in the South Africa:

  1.   Fire Action Notice Sign is a safety sign explaining what to do in case of a fire
  2.    Fire Exit Signs are safety signs that mark fire exit routes, fire doors and assembly points
  3.    Fire-fighting Equipment Location Signs show the location of fire-fighting equipment such as extinguishers
  4.    Warning and Prohibition Safety Signs such as ‘Danger’ or ‘No Smoking’

Regulations Guide for fire exit signs and other fire safety signs

All business premises need at least two or three fire extinguisher safety signs. Figuring out which product you really need and where you should put them can become somewhat confusing. If you run any type of commercial or business space, you may already be familiar with the basic legal and safety requirements for fire safety signs. Fire exit signs are the most common necessity products but there are lots of different types of safety signage that are required.


 The two main pieces of fire safety legislation that govern fire safety signs are the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005), and the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations act of 1996.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is also known as the ‘RRO’ and forms the cornerstone of fire safety in the UK and South Africa. It brings together all laws that relate to fire extinguisher safety together in one place and this not only applies for fire safety signs. While the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 does specifically apply to safety signage. See our simplified guide to ‘RRO’ below:


As mentioned above the four main applications of fire extinguisher safety signs in the South Africa:

  1.   Fire Action Notice Sign is a safety sign explaining what to do in case of a fire
  2.    Fire Exit Signs are safety signs that mark fire exit routes, fire doors and assembly points
  3.    Fire-fighting Equipment Location Signs show the location of fire-fighting equipment such as extinguishers
  4.    Warning and Prohibition Safety Signs such as ‘Danger’ or ‘No Smoking’

Fire safety signs are required to be photo-luminescent so that the glow of the plastic signs will help the room or buildings occupants make their way out of the premises, or enable them to find fire extinguisher of fire fighting equipment if the lighting should fail during a fire.

The signs you will require will depend on the layout of your premises, the nature of their use, and the fire-fighting equipment you already have.  If you are doing a ‘Fire Risk Assessment’ the ORYX Fire Extinguisher Sign: Simple regulations guide 2020 will outline exactly which fire safety sign products you will need. 


Fire Action Notice Signs – What to do in case of fire!

The Fire Action Notice sign’s purpose is to make sure that anyone who may be working in or visiting your building will know what to do if they discover a fire or find that they need to evacuate the building.


Fire Action Notice sign are usually pre-printed plastic signs with spaces left open to fill in information, like:

  •  The phone number to call the fire department
  •  The correct exit/s to use to leave the building
  •  Where the assembly point is
  •  As well as any additional instructions that are specific to the building

All commercial premises must display Fire Action Notice signs. The best practice guidelines recommend that you always display a Fire Action Notice next to every Fire Alarm call-point, and at every final exit door, where they are most likely to be seen in the event of fire taking place.


Fire Exit Signs

 If your commercial space is a fairly small simple layout, you may find that you do not need to get a fire exit sign.  Fire exit signs are not a requirement if it is ‘obvious’ where the exit is. In other words if you had a small premises where there is just one door at the front where it is clear that would be the only means of escaping.

In more complex buildings fire exit sign arrows are a necessity.  What you specifically need will be based on how easily the buildings occupants would be able to make their way out of the building using the arrows in the event of fire, especially if they are unfamiliar with the building layout. In some cases you may need a series of directional arrow signs that will lead occupants along the shortest possible route to escape.  These may be familiar to you as they are the green exit signs with arrows indicating which way you should go to exit safely.


Fire Exit Doors Signs

 All fire exit doors are required to carry the ‘Fire door, keep shut’ sign. This is a prime example of a ‘mandatory’ notice, which means that it gives an instruction that must be followed to ensure that the building remains safe from fire. You may also need to provide instructions on how to operate the door, or indicate that a door opens automatically depending on the type of exits you have in your building.


Fire Assembly Points Signs

 Your fire assembly point should be far enough away from your building to avoid interfering with the fire department or being in any danger from falling debris that maybe caused by the fire.  This means the fire assembly point plastic signs need to be clearly signposted.  You will also need to take into consideration the types of occupants who will need to evacuate the building or premises in the event of fire. You have to make sure that the Fire Assembly Point is suitable for the young, old or disabled alike.


Fire-Fighting Equipment Location Signs

 It is vital that building occupants know where to find fire extinguisher or fire fighting equipment in the event of a fire. As well as which equipment they can use, depending on the type of fire they are faced with. Ninety five percent of fires that are dealt with while it is still in its early stages are generally extinguished within two minutes. Therefore being able to locate the right type of fire extinguisher quickly is of absolute critical importance to maintain the safety of your building or premises.


Fire Extinguisher ID Signs

 Fire extinguisher ID signs come in a variety of formats so you will have to pick the ones that are best suited to the location of your extinguishers.  They can be fixed to a wall or alternatively attached to the extinguishers stand. Since fire extinguishers are mandatory, all premises must have at least one extinguisher ID sign.


 Hose Reels and Dry Riser Signs
You may also find that you need to provide fire safety signs for fire fighting equipment such as hose reels and dry risers if you have them on your building premises.


Fire Alarm Call-Points

 Your buildings fire alarm call-points must be clearly sign-posted so that the occupants can easily find the place where to raise the alarm if they encounter a fire. Every call-point should have a sign and you should ideally also post Fire Action Notices here, so that the person raising the alarm will have all the information they need to proceed. If you have a fire alarm, then call point signs are mandatory product requirement.


Warning Safety Signs

 You will generally need a vinyl warning sign when you have flammable substances on the building premises, such as gas or oil. Warning signs are generally yellow and black, and are often (but not always) triangular. They are specifically product designed to alert occupants to danger. If you have an extra risk of fire on your premises then you will probably need vinyl warning safety signs.

 Prohibition Safety Signs

Prohibition signs convey ‘Do Not…’ style warnings in building areas where there is a specific risk of fires breaking out. They are most commonly used in conjunction with vinyl Warning signs, for example to expressly prohibit smoking in an area where there are flammable material products present. Warning signs are usually circular, with a red band around the outside and a diagonal red line through the centre.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

 The 1996 Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations clearly state that at fire points the following symbol should be shown, particularly if the fire extinguisher itself is obscured. The British Standard BS5499 gives us some guidance on how this extinguisher ID sign should be fitted, which is somewhere between 1.7 to 2m off the ground. As such, this portion of the fire extinguisher ID sign must legally be shown, but not necessarily next to the fire extinguisher itself.


In 1997 the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations and the subsequent amendment regulations two years later then came into being. The guidance notes stated that some form of training and instruction must be provided on fire equipment and extinguishers. This could mean anything from hands-on training to providing written instructions. These written instructions could be in turn found in the form of a permanently affixed sign.


The aforementioned regulations were then absorbed into the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This was without there being any further explicit and mandatory instructions for there to be written instructions next to every fire extinguisher.


However the Provision and Use of Work Equipment 1998 clearly states that if you provide a tool or piece of equipment that is intended for use by staff or visitors, you have a clearly defined legal duty to provide adequate training or instruction on that equipment. Fire Sign safety not only safe-guards every person that elects to pick up and use a fire extinguisher, it will also help to protect the owner of the building from any potential lawsuit.


Fire extinguishers when used incorrectly, can present as much risk and as much danger they are attempting to prevent. In some cases untrained operators of CO2 extinguishers can asphyxiate themselves when faced with confined spaces. While using a water or foam extinguisher on an electrical based fire can easily result in a pooling effect that will ultimately lead to the electrocution of the would-be hero.


OSHA Fire Extinguisher Requirements

 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) prohibits employees from using a portable fire extinguisher unless they have been properly trained to recognize the circumstances of when and how it should be used. Business and organizations are required to provide this training when employees are first hired and then again annually thereafter. Employers are also advised to establish a clear policy of who is qualified to use fire extinguishers, as well as the situations in which they can and should be used, and the proper procedures to be followed for use.


OSHA requires at least a monthly visual inspection of all portable extinguishers, monthly inspections do not have to be documented but it is recommended. The mandatory annual inspections and periodic maintenance inspections do however have to be documented. Most inspection labels tags that are attached to portable extinguishers will have a 12-month grid on the back after their annual inspections. This is where an inspector can enter the date and initial the labels tag when the monthly inspections have been performed.


Make sure that you capture the names of all trained OSHA employees who have attended the training sessions. But even more importantly, you should go back and identify any workers who were absent due to sickness, vacation or other reasons on your training day, so you can get them into a make-up session so you can document their attendance. To prevent fire extinguishers from being moved or damaged, they should ideally be mounted on brackets or within wall cabinets with the carrying handle that is placed three and half to five feet above the ground. While larger fire extinguishers need to be mounted at lower heights, with their carrying handle sitting about three feet above the floor.


Materials that are stacked on pallets, shelving, open doorways or parked equipment like forklifts can prevent the extinguisher from being seen.  The best practice is to then install the sign above a portable fire extinguisher so its location can easily be identified from a distance in case it is obstructed from view.

Fire Extinguisher Sign: Simple Regulations Guide 2020


At ORYX we understand and educate our clients on the regulations and rules that govern fire safety in South Africa. We hope this guide offered an in depth overview of the correct fire safety signage and regulations that companies need to follow to pass the necessary fire inspections you will face.

Remember that ORYX provides our clients with all the necessary extinguisher amounts, classification types and sizes that are required to meet the unique safety needs of your business, store room, warehouse, complex, building, guest house or restaurant.



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