Schools can be unpredictable. With hundreds of people running around the school, it’s impossible to keep on top of what everyone is doing. Consequently, every year, approximately 90,000 pupils in the UK find their education disrupted because of a fire. In comparison to other types of commercial buildings, schools are nearly twice as likely to have a fire. It’s a huge point of concern and while schools cannot control everything, they can massively decrease the risk of a fire and be better equipped to deal with it. The best way to make sure everyone is safe is by keeping on top of fire management and carrying out detailed fire risk assessments.
Before 2006, schools were rarely considered in fire safety legislation. There were over 70 pieces of legislation covering fire safety in the UK, but none of these included school regulations. The legislations were combined to form Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including schools. This piece of legislation places a requirement on a named ‘responsible person’ to carry out a fire risk assessment – to identify any possible risks, to reduce or remove those risks, and to ensure that people on the premises could evacuate safely.
When carrying out a fire risk assessment, you should follow these five steps:
Find out what you should include in your fire risk assessment in more detail.
Schools naturally have a lot of electrical appliances around. Some are for teaching purposes, such as electronic whiteboards and computers. Others are for the general day-to-day operation of the school, such as heaters or plug sockets. When it comes to lunchtime, that brings in a whole host of other appliances including kettles, microwaves, fridges, and ovens.
Obstruction of the Means of Escape:
Obstructions are objects that block fire exits and fire doors, making it difficult or impossible for students and staff to evacuate in the event of a fire. While obstructions might not cause the fire, they pose a huge risk to the welfare of those at the school if there was to be one. It’s important to regularly check these fire escape routes.
Wall and hanging displays:
We understand the educational importance of displays within classrooms and circulation routes. However, special considerations and guidance need to be applied to ensure that escape and circulation routes are not compromised in the event of a fire. Our FRAs provide specific guidance on the limit and size of such displays.
Safe occupancy figures for school halls and open areas:
The occupancy figures for such areas also require specific consideration, particularly around times of Christmas plays and other productions as well as school assemblies. Our competent fire safety consultants are able to calculate safe occupancy figures for these areas and are included in our FRAs.
Arson in schools is a major concern. Zurich Municipal found that 75% of school fires are started deliberately. Some resulting in losses of over £1 million, which takes away from resources and activities. Schools should include an arson attack into their assessment and put preventative measures in place, including securing the outside area and deterring unauthorised entry to any part of the site.
It’s incredibly important that your BAFE approved fire risk assessment is carried out correctly. We can take care of this for you, giving you the peace of mind that it has been done right. We know that schools are busy places and this gives you the time to focus on the pupils and the day-to-day runnings of the schools.
However, fire risk assessments are just the beginning of the fire risk management cycle. We can also offer an ongoing, fire consultancy service which includes the initial fire risk assessment(s), as well as more in depth support. At Total Fire Group, we have conducted fire risk assessments for schools across the UK, from primary through to universities, and including schools which focus on children with special needs. This means we really do understand the specific challenges a school faces. Contact us to find out how we can help with your school’s fire safety.
We offer our clients a complete fire safety management service, our key services include:
Delivering a comprehensive and detailed report on your property.
We can provide a partnership which offers auditing and consultancy services.
Manage multiple risk assessment actions with our Aurora software.
Our fire safety training courses cover every level of fire safety, from basic through to advanced.