With staff, students, visitors, contractors and suppliers moving around a number of buildings at all times of the day and night, fire safety in the education sector is vitally important.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 dictates that fire risks must be assessed with action taken to prevent incident as necessary.
Churches Fire & Security works with several businesses in the education industry, providing fire detection and prevention services.
We have gathered 5 tips to help make sure your business complies with the law and maintains the safety of staff, students, visitors, contractors and suppliers.
Arrange a fire risk assessment
The starting point of any fire safety plan is a fire risk assessment. A legal requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire risk assessment should be carried out by a qualified and experienced individual.
The fire risk assessment must identify the following:
- What is a fire hazard? Consider heaters, cooking equipment, electricals, science apparatus, sources of ignition, any smoking areas
- Who is at risk? In a school, you should assume that everyone is at risk should a fire occur. Visitors and contractors will not be familiar with the building layout, so exit routes should be clearly marked. If there are people in the building with additional needs, make provisions to allow for their safe evacuation
- What is your evacuation plan? Are there appropriate sources of fire detection and prevention? How has this evacuation plan been communicated to those on the premises
- How are findings recorded? All points highlighted in the assessment should be documented. The document should include actions taken, any gaps in training knowledge, special conditions to be considered in an emergency situation
- Review the fire risk assessment. The document should always be referred back to, making changes if required – such as if the building’s use is altered, doors are removed or additional rooms are built
Assign and train fire wardens
Fire wardens are specially trained individuals who work to maintain fire safety and act in the event of a fire.
In a school environment, there will be numerous students who look to staff for reassurance and guidance if the fire alarm sounds. Ensuring staff and fire wardens know what to do in such a situation could save lives and prevent damage to buildings and property.
Points to consider when assigning fire wardens:
- Is the person competent? Make sure the assigned fire wardens are comfortable taking on responsibility for fire safety and are confident in their ability to use fire-fighting equipment if necessary and safe to do so
- Are wardens required on-site 24/7? If the school has boarding students, a fire warden will need to be on site out of usual working hours. Have provisions been made for holiday and sickness cover? Consider how many wardens are needed depending on the size and use of the building
- Provide suitable fire safety training. It’s a legal requirement to deliver fire safety training as per The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Employees should know what to do when an alarm sounds, upon the discovery of a fire, how to avoid hazards and carry out a safe evacuation of the premises
Practice Active Arson Reduction
Figures have shown that although many school fires are started deliberately, it’s likely that most are started accidentally. There are ways to lower the opportunities to get a fire started:
- Lock away combustibles. By making sure cleaning products, Bunsen burners and cooking equipment, gas and material flammables are locked away securely, you can reduce access to sources of ignition
- Prevent unauthorised access to buildings. A robust security process to gain access to the buildings will deter people from entering without permission. Making sure students cannot access kitchens, science laboratories, and engine and plant rooms lowers risk of arson. Roof access should only be possible to those who require it
- Remove waste. Have a process in place for the safe and secure removal of rubbish and combustible items. Remember to keep waste and fuel sources away from all potential ignition sources (such as fuse boards and servers)
Maintain Consistent Fire Safety
Educational facilities are often used out of normal working hours. Adult learning, sporting activities, meetings, conferences etc. can all take place in schools when students have left the building.
The person responsible for the maintenance of the buildings must make sure that anyone using the school is aware of the fire safety precautions.
People will often assume that fire safety measures have been put in place, but if a fire warden is not on site at all times, you must make arrangements to ensure those on the premises know where evacuation points are and what to do in the event of a fire emergency.
Adult learning sessions could involve sources of ignition, such as in a cooking class or electrical maintenance. Consider if it’s the teacher’s responsibility or the building manager’s to ensure proper fire safety in communicated.
Appoint A Trusted Fire Safety Services Provider
To ensure your business remains compliant and meets British Standards, it’s advisable to form a working relationship with a trusted fire safety services provider.
Churches Fire & Security is a nationwide company dedicated to supplying the best solutions to customers both large and small. We can provide your educational facility with fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, fire alarms, kitchen suppression, fire safety signage and many more services.
When staff, students, visitors, contractors and suppliers arrive at the school, be sure to explain the fire safety practices as appropriate.
How much information you provide is down to the individual and the circumstances, however fire exits and what to do in an emergency should be communicated to everyone on-site.
As of May 2019, the Government are reviewing the Building Bulletin 100: Design for fire safety in schools, originally detailed here.
Churches Fire & Security has many years of experience maintaining and repairing fire safety services for many industries, including education.
We can help you fulfil your obligations and remain compliant with legislation.Contact Us