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4 Tips for Getting the Right Fire Code Signs Fast

by Deborah Scott on June 2, 2014

We see it time and time again, a building owner, property manager or new business tenant has taken care to meet all of the building code and fire code requirements.  Everyone is ready to open for business.  Well almost everyone.  The fire departmet needs to perform the final inspection and it can come down to one inspector's judgment about final signage required before an occupancy permit can be issued.  

fire_code_signs   stairway_signs

Many types of fire code signs are standard or predictable based on the building structure and exit routes, but the final approval is up to the specific inspector you are working with.  It is essential that you understand their expectations in order to get your doors open. Sometimes the only thing standing between you and opening for business are a few small signs.  Here are four tips to help you get accurate and timely fire code signs and safety signs fabricated and installed quickly.  

1.  Ask your inspector for the specific sign wording requirements.  

Write the wording down carefully - a single mistake can set you back, waiting for another inspection.  If you are required to provide an occupancy sign, know the specific number you are approved for.  If you need to provide stairway safety signs, ask for specific layouts and wording.  When you request signs from your sign company be sure to convey this wording carefully.  While there are industry standards, your building, inspector and situation are unique.  There are specifics that your sign company simply cannot know, so be clear and precise when communicating.

2.  Ask your inspector for specific letter height, tactile and material color requirements.  

Your inspector is planning for a safe evacuation of your space or building in the case of an emergency.  Maximizing visibility or "readability" are paramount.  Highly contrasting colors, white on black, red, navy or the reverse are often required.  Letter size also contributes to legibility.  If the fire department is rushing up the stairs, they want to be able to quickly assess what floor they are on and if the stairwell has roof access.  

It is also easy to imagine the importance of a tactile sign in a smoke filled room or stairwell.  Ask about specific engraving or stand off requirements that will allow the sign to be "readable" with one's fingertips.  For example, the inspector may require that the fire code sign be printed with a red background and white letters that are two inches high.  In addition, the lettering may need to stand off a specified height against the background.   

3.  Note if the sign will be located in a public space or in a service or employee only space.

 If the sign is going to be located in a public space it could have implications for the materials and appearance of the sign.  While the sign has a very specific function, you may want it to fit well with your brand and/or architecture.  If the sign will be located in a space not typically seen by your customers or public  appearance is less of a concern and less expensive materials may be used. 

4.  Know your upcoming inspection date

 We all know time is money.  Planning for the next inspection will help you get accurate signs fabricated and installed on time at a fair price.  Poor planning can lead to inaccuracies and added expenses due to rush charges.  Communicate your deadlines to your sign company so they can get you exactly what you need when you need it.


While this all seems straight forward, it is easy to overlook a detail and suddenly experience delays in opening your business - something nobody wants to experience.  Following these four simple tips and you can put your energy into building a successful and safe organization or business. 

RainMaker Signs specializes in safety, fire code, ADA signs and other types of signage.  We proudly serve the greater Seattle area including Seattle, Shoreline, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah and beyond.   Give us a call toll free 855-806-7446 or email answers@RainMakerSigns.com and we'd be happy to help you out.  Or just click the button below.

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Topics: Fire Safety Signs

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