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Exit Signs

Exit signs are an integral part of a buildings Fire Safety Measures, usually specified by the Annual Fire Safety Statement (AFSS). In Australia, exit signs are governed by a comprehensive set of rules and regulations designed to maximise safety in the event of a fire or other emergency. Their installation, maintenance, and design are largely regulated by Australian Standards, primarily AS 2293.1 Emergency Lighting and Exit Signs for Buildings.

In line with this standard, exit signs must be clearly visible and unobstructed at all times. They must be illuminated in a colour that is easily discernible against the surrounding environment, usually green and white. Green is the colour typically used in Australia for exit signs as it is universally recognised as a safe colour.

The purpose of exit signs is to provide clear guidance to the nearest exit in the event of an emergency. Hence, they are usually placed above doors or passages leading outside the building, or to a safer area within the building. In multi-level buildings, exit signs must also be installed at the top of stairwells, indicating the direction to ground level.

Australia's National Construction Code (NCC) specifies that all Class 5-9 buildings must have exit signs installed. These buildings include offices, retail stores, health care facilities, entertainment venues, and accommodation services. Other building classes may also need to install exit signs depending on the building's size, occupancy load, and complexity.

Regular maintenance and testing of exit signs are crucial to ensure they function correctly when needed. In Australia, it is a legal requirement for business owners and managers to ensure these signs are properly maintained, tested and cleaned. These checks should be carried out at least every six months, as per AS 2293.2 Maintenance of Emergency and Exit Lighting Systems.

When an AFSS is conducted, a qualified fire safety practitioner assesses various essential fire safety measures in the building, including the adequacy and effectiveness of exit signs. They must ensure that the exit signs are clearly visible, illuminated, correctly placed, and unobstructed.

Failure to comply with the requirements for exit signs can result in significant penalties, including hefty fines and legal action. More importantly, non-compliance can seriously compromise the safety of occupants in the event of an emergency.