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10 TIPS FOR FIRE SAFETY IN SCHOOLS

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10 tips for fire safety in schools

Those of us who are involved in the education of the oncoming generation have a duty of care for the young people involved. They are only young once, and just have one chance. It is our responsibility to ensure that they are safe and protected in the school environment, so that they can fulfil their potential.

We’ve created this guide to share the wealth of knowledge we have in relation to fire safety in the education sector and to make it easy for you to stay fire safe at school.

This guide covers our Top 10 Tips for Fire Safety in Schools to ensure you haven’t missed off any of the really important, but easily overlooked facets of fire safety in the education sector.  It provides actionable points and insights to keep you safe and legal at school without eating into your busy schedule.

1. CLEARLY DEFINE WHO IS RESPONSIBLE

Regulatory Reform Order (RRO) 2005 states there must be ONE person with overall responsibility for fire safety onsite. This person may delegate roles to other competent persons, but he/she maintains in overall control.

2. ARE YOU CARRYING OUT THE REQUIRED EQUIPMENT CHECKS?

Knowing what has to be checked on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is essential to maintaining all the fire safety equipment in good working order. Email andrew@blazequel. com to request your free fire safety equipment maintenance guides.

3. ARE THERE PEOPLE THAT MAY NEED HELP DURING FIRE EVACUATIONS?

Are disabled people going to be in your premises? You must provide a safe means for them to leave if there is a fire. Disabled persons may react differently to a fire evacuation. You may need to create a PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) for them to ensure they are given the required support. Email andrew@blazequel.com to request your free copy of our full PEEP guide and document templates

4. HOW OFTEN DO YOU PERFORM FIRE DRILLS AND TRAINING?

Time waits for no-one, and neither does fire. In emergencies, instinctive reactions are essential and only come with fire drills and training. Appointed Fire Marshals need to be adequately trained to ensure effective evacuations. By law, anyone with that responsibility (or who may have to use portable fire extinguishers) must receive appropriate training. In an emergency, training saves lives.

5. HAVE YOU CONSIDERED SAFEGUARDING STRATEGIES DURING FIRE EVACUATIONS?

Safeguarding strategies are part of everyday school policy – protecting both students and staff. But what happens during the bustle and fluster of a fire evacuation? Have you ensured that your strategy isn’t compromised? Points to consider include:

  • Fire Marshals ‘sweep’ of the school (including toilets) to ensure all pupils are at the Fire Assembly Area
  • The safeguarding strategy when all pupils are at the assembly area.

6. DO YOU HAVE AN UP-TO-DATE FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT?

Every organisation has a responsibility to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment, which forms the basis of all site fire protection measures, and can be requested for scrutiny by the public, insurers, fire officers or a court of law at any time.

7. DO YOU PRACTICE EFFECTIVE RECORD KEEPING?

Details of all fire risk assessments, service reports, inspection records, recommendations and issues should be recorded in your Fire Log Book. And remember, in the event of an inspection or real fire incident, your insurers, the fire service or a court of law may request to see it as evidence of your procedures, maintenance and training. By law you must provide such reports.

Our EasiComply Fire Log Book has been written to help you stay compliant with all your fire protection responsibilities and record keeping.

8. HOW WELL IS YOUR SCHOOL PREPARED FOR ARSON ATTACKS?

Arson is a big problem for schools. In 2001, the cost to the UK of arson attacks at educational establishments was estimated at over £115 million. The best way to prevent arson is proactive housekeeping and student education. This should include a site ‘fire-walk’ on a daily basis to identify and correct potential hazards. 

Every day in the UK, 3 schools suffer from Arson attacks. It’s a risk that no public building is immune from, but it can have a potentially devastating impact on your students, staff and facilities.

Proactive housekeeping and being alert to the risks are an essential part of keeping your school safe. Here is some of the most important points to consider, when protecting your school from Arson:

  • 97% of all school time fires start within the building;
  • Early afternoon is the most common time for Arson incidents to occur;
    Cloakrooms are the starting point for 59% of all school arson fires! Classrooms only account for 12%.
  • Ensure that key arson risk areas are protected by a regular staff presence, or by a CCTV deterrent if appropriate.
  • Ensure you have automatic fire detection in these key risk areas, and consider for the requirement of automatic fire extinguishing systems.

9. ARE YOU TAKING FALSE ALARMS SERIOUSLY ENOUGH?

Making sure Fire Alarms function properly is essential. False alarms waste hundreds of pounds in teaching time and fire service time. Even more seriously, they can cause complacency among staff and students – provoking a “crying wolf” attitude. Don’t allow false alarms to become commonplace. Often simple changes such as installing Perspex covers over manual call points can help prevent any malicious or accidental activation. Email andrew@blazequel.com for your free fire alarm system guide.

10. ALWAYS PRACTISE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Risks constantly evolve, so proactive risk assessment approach is essential to keep up with changes to your facility and daily operations. Additionally, fire systems are evolving, with new and better ways to protect you and your facility becoming more cost-effective. For new schools or major refurbishment projects, we support the calls from the London Fire Brigade, the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and many others to make fire sprinklers mandatory. They save lives and property and are a reliable and cost-effective solution. We also recommend considering automatic fire suppression in high-risk and operations-critical areas. Compact systems are available for retro-fit in kitchens, plant rooms, fume cupboards and server rooms.

ANY MORE QUESTIONS? JUST ASK BLAZEQUEL

The experienced and knowledgeable team at Blazequel are committed to help with your every need. No question too small, no project too big. Let us know and we’ll be more than happy to help!

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