NFPA 170

Developed by the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA 170 is a standardized catalog of uniformed symbols for use on emergency signs and labels. It combines four previous standards for fire safety and emergency symbols: NFPA 171, NFPA 172, NFPA 147, and NFPA 178. NFPA 170 uses easily understood uniform symbols to eliminate confusion and improve communication in the event of an emergency.

What is the scope of NFPA 170?

Last updated in 2021, this NFPA standard describes the characteristics, application, and an example for the following types of fire safety and emergency symbols used on safety signs and labels:

Symbols for General Use

  • Emergency exits: Symbols used for emergency exit routes and accessible exit routes, and a 'Not an Exit' symbol.
  • Fire evacuation: Symbols to direct employees to a safe exit via stairs.
  • Fire hazards: Prohibition symbols to limit open flames and smoking.
  • Assembly points: Symbols used to designate areas of refuge or severe weather shelters.
  • Emergency equipment: Symbols to identify fire alarms, AEDs, fire hoses and/or fire extinguishers.
  • Fire extinguishers: Recommended icons and letter-shaped symbols to clarify fire extinguisher classes.

Symbols for Use by the Fire Service

  • Fire department connections: Symbols used to identify sprinkler and standpipe connections.
  • Hydrants: Approved symbols for fire hydrants as well as dry hydrants.
  • Fire safety equipment: Symbols for firefighting hoses, fire extinguishers, and automatic sprinklers.
  • Emergency shutoff: Symbols to identify the electrical panel, electric shutoff, or fas shutoff valve.
  • Other: Additional symbols in this section includes directional arrows and symbols for child care centers, emergency telephones, SCBAs, and where firefighting is prohibited.

Symbols for Maps and Diagrams

The remaining chapters of the NFPA 170 standard explains symbols and icons used in mapping buildings or in diagrams of fire protection systems including:

  • Symbols for Use in Architectural and Engineering Drawings
  • Symbols for Use in Water Supply, Extinguishing , and Sprinkler System Drawings
  • Symbols for Use in Electronic Fire and Smoke Detection and Notification System Drawings
  • Symbols for Use in Pre-Incident Planning Sketches
  • Symbology for Emergency Management Mapping
  • Emergency Evacuation Diagrams and Plans

With a harmonized system for safety symbols, following NFPA 170 can effectively reduce reaction time during an emergency.

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