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  • E K Fire Protection

“Walk, Don’t Run”: The History Of Fire Exit Signs

Fire exit signs and other illuminated emergency exit signs are essential fire safety measures for all buildings. Their job is to inform occupants where to go in the event of a fire, allowing them to escape in a calm and orderly fashion. All fire safety signs must be lit with emergency lighting, ensuring that they’re still effective if there is a power cut or an issue with the building’s lighting.

To better understand fire exit signs as a fire protection safety precaution, this blog will take you through their history, from initial colour choices to the use of pictograms. Read on to learn more.

The Development Of Fire Safety Signs

Throughout history, civilisations and people have used images to communicate. Cave paintings and hieroglyphics demonstrate pictorial reflections of the ancient world, made by those who were living in it, and allowed for the intuitive distribution of stories and ideas. Fire exit signs continue this tradition today.

Fire safety signs as we know them today were used more commonly during the industrialisation of Britain. In 1968, at a convention in Vienna, it was decided that certain shapes and colours of fire safety signs should be standardised worldwide to make them universally recognisable in different places. This came into action around a decade later.

The Importance Of Colour

Psychologically speaking, colour is considered to be the most essential element of a safety sign, as it emits the most immediate signal to your brain. Primary colours are used to indicate the following:

  • Red: Immediate danger.

  • Yellow: Potential hazard, take care.

  • Blue: Vital information, pay attention.

  • Green: Safe to proceed.

For fire exit signs, green is used, as it is a signal that informs the building’s occupant where to proceed next. In the same fashion as a green traffic light: its job is to indicate where to go next.

Pictograms And The Running Man

When they became internationally standardised, fire exit signs evolved from text-only messages to ones which involved pictograms. This involved the use of the now-infamous “running man”, designed by Yukio Ota, which was meant to look like someone walking towards the exit in a brisk yet orderly fashion.

Originating with the Japanese fire safety commission, there are many variations on the “running man” in Europe, but the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) mandates that all its member countries use the same signage.

Need Emergency Exit Signs For Your Business?

Depending on the type and size of the building, fire exit signs and illuminated fire safety signs must be regulated by BS 5266-1: 2011. If you’re unsure about what this entails, EK Fire Protection are here to help. We can ensure that your building follows these important fire exit sign regulations with our fire safety signs and emergency lighting services.

Get in touch with us today for emergency exit signs as well as other fire protection solutions.

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