Politicians can very well be putting themselves as well as others in danger by using an extremely old political trick, the disguising of fire exit signs. They are doing so in order to avoid embarrassing photographs. This practice can very well lead to voters becoming lost or trapped should an actual fire breakout within the room in which the politicians are speaking or appearing. For spin doctors, the covering up of signs is an important job, because it keeps a politician from being photographed under a sign that is suggestive of a way out as opposed to a way in.
According to a spokesperson for the Association of Chief Fire Officers, covering an exit sign or obstructing a fire exit is a highly serious matter. It is highly encouraged that once a blocked exit or covered sign is noted, that it be immediately reported to a local rescue and fire service. It should be noted that the fire exit signs are promptly uncovered once the appearance has been completed, but the risk involved in the action is far too great to ignore.
The former press officer for Boris Johnson Dylan Sharpe, once went farther than merely covering the fire exit sign. Sharpe had the sign completely unscrewed and taken down from the wall that it had been designated to. At the time, Sharpe was not under the employment of any politician.
The rules that govern fire exit signs within England are set within the Regulatory Order of 2005. It states that non domestic premises or businesses are required to have a responsible person, in the event of a fire, for exit routes. They are also responsible for ensuring that all fire exits remain clear and properly identified at all times. All emergency exits and routes are required to be identified by signs, while emergency exits and routes need to be illuminated. This illumination must be provided with emergency lighting whose intensity is adequate in the event that the normal lighting fails. Aside from that, the regulations do not specify any provision that formally prohibit the temporary covering of the fire exit signs.
With that being said, the practice of politicians having fire exit signs covered will not, seemingly, cease anytime soon. Although they have been strongly advised not to continue the practice, it continues to flourish. It seems that the desire to win the election and enter office far outweighs the collective safety of the voters that will elect them. Not only does this practice entail the covering of fire exit signs, but it also involves the blocking of exits. Should a fire breakout during a politician’s appearance at a venue, the results would be chaotic and deadly.