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What is the red triangle on the window? | Japanese architectural design standards

Category : JapanAmazing Fact of JapanEmergency

When you looked up a building on the street, have you ever happened to see a red triangle on the window? The red triangle is a sticker indicating Fire Brigade Entrance (消防隊進入口), where fire brigade breaks the window and enters the building in a state of fire disaster and such emergencies. Under certain conditions, the Japanese building standards law requires that buildings indicate the red triangle, regardless of office buildings or private housing. Both owners and tenants of the building should know the sign’s meaning to comply with the law.

Red triangles at the window

The red triangle indicates “Fire Brigade Entrance”

The red-triangled sticker is to be on the window reachable from the fire ladder for emergency rescue. The equilateral triangle is 20cm wide, generally red in front (outside), and the backside (indoor side) is white with a notice printed on it.

Image: Fire Brigade Entrance

What types of buildings need the indication?

According to the Building Standards Law of Japan (Article 126 No.6), the fire brigade entrance must be indicated on buildings lower than 31 meters, have three or more stories without balconies, nor large windows. These conditions have been defined to ensure emergency services for buildings lower than 31 meters, the maximum reachable height of the fire ladder. The fire brigade entrance must be a window facing a road that width is 4 meters or broader, so that ladder trucks can approach closer there. The law applies to any buildings, including offices, houses, factories, and stores. However, the indication is not obligated if the building is equipped with an emergency elevator (非常用エレベーター). Buildings over 31 meters are also not required to indicate a fire brigade entrance, where an emergency elevator must be equipped under the law.

What building owners and tenants to know about the sign

If you are an owner or a tenant of the building requiring the fire brigade entrance, you need to know a few things to ensure compliance. The primary point is that you are not to place anything at the window of the fire brigade entrance. It is also not allowed to remove the red-triangle sticker or change the placement to make the window look better. In the regulation, the window of the fire brigade entrance must be at least 75cm wide, 120cm in height, has been placed within 80cm up from the floor face.

In terms of counting building stories, we need to remember that “ground floor” is synonymous with “first floor” in Japan. If you mix up “third floor” and “three stories (second floor)” by mistake and have not provided the fire brigade entrance, it can be a violation of that law. In fact, Japanese people call the ground floor the first floor (1階 ikkai) is that something to keep in mind when deciding where to meet your Japanese friends in a building.

While we tend not to pay much attention to the red triangle on windows, we should be aware of the importance in case of emergencies and consequently follow the regulation.


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