We are often asked by clients whether or not they have to have signs above their extinguishers - especially clients trying to reduce the 'institutionalized' look that can result from too many signs. Well the answer is no.

There is no doubt in our mind that many suppliers and fire advisers misunderstand the legislation regarding fire safety signage.

So what is the legislative requirement?

Is is our opinion that there is no specific requirement for fire safety signage under the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, rather that if fire safety signs are required under fire safety legislation, then they should meet the requirements of the Safety Signs and Signals Regulations. It is important to remember that the Safety Signs and Signals Regulations rely on graphic symbols - or pictograms - so signs including written instruction on the type and use of an extinguisher could not comply with this requirement.

Neither does the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 specifically require the use of signs above fire extinguishers. Indeed, the requirements of the Fire Safety Order are framed in such a way that only where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, or that may be reasonably be required in the circumstances of the case to ensure that the premises are safe, need a provision be made.

So what signs are necessary?

Signs indicating the location of portable fire-fighting equipment should be provided if there be any doubt about its location, e.g. fire extinguishers that are kept in cabinets or in recesses. See guides issued in support of the Fire Safety Order

Information regarding the materials on which it is appropriate to use a paticular extinguisher are clearly indicated on the extinguisher itself, along with instructions for use. And, ideally, this is something that the responsible person will include in fire safety awareness training.

For further information on this other other aspects of the UK fire regulations, plese do not hesitate to use our FREE helpline, info@fagus-fire.co.uk.