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Things you need to think about when installing a fire assembly point sign

With all the complexities of setting out a fire exit route, most sign installers breath easy when it comes to placing signs outside. This is often considered to be the easy bit! However, this is not always the case…

Although the source of the story is long since lost in the annals of time, as a young marketer with the UK’s largest fire protection company, I was told the following story:

Somewhere in a company in the south west of England an employee set off the fire alarm by doing nothing more than burning their toast in the kitchen. The automatic alarm was quickly raised and all staff and visitors evacuated swiftly and in good order. The alarm also automatically dialled the fire brigade.

In the Brigade’s commendable speed to attend what could well have been a major incident, the fire engine came around the corner and through the gates. Unfortunately, as the Fire Assembly Point had been installed just next to the gate two members of staff were regrettably struck by the fire engine on their way through to the building.

Although neither person was seriously injured the incident does raise some serious questions about the best place to site a fire assembly point sign.

Firstly, as the earlier tale suggests, the fire assembly sign should be in a place of safety away from an entrance or exit to ensure no member of staff is placed at any undue risk.

Furthermore, when it comes to the correct positioning of this sign, the general rule of thumb is it must be positioned a distance equal to twice the height of the building away. So, if a three storey building is 12 metres high, the assembly point must be 24 metres away from the building.

Ideally the assembly point should also be facing the building and should be large enough to be seen from a distance.

Finally, for visitors and new members of staff that may not be familiar with the building’s layout and surrounding area, directional arrows should be considered to guide people in a safe route around the outside of the building.

As a footnote to this article it is worth noting that some offices (particularly in built up city areas) may not have sufficient grounds away from the building to site a fixed fire assembly point. If this is the case, they may wish to issue their nominated fire wardens with this mobile fire assembly point shown in the picture right.