Fire Safety in Schools

Posted in Fire Safety on 30 January 2019

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Though the way schools are run may differ in certain areas, the one commonality between them all is the sheer importance of having a comprehensive and effective fire safety plan in place.

A fire safety plan is comprised of many different aspects, from passive implementations in the building’s structure, to the teaching of students through recurring fire drills. This article is going to look at the different aspects of fire safety in schools, highlighting the requirements, the hazards and the education involved. We aim to educate staff and students alike on how all these aspects come together to ensure safety is a number one priority in school — and potentially save lives.

Requirements for fire safety in schools

Every school must adhere to certain regulatory precautions to ensure it is kept on the cutting edge of safety. These precautions can be categorised into two groups: passive and active.

Passive fire precautions involve the delaying of a fire, as well as protecting the structural integrity of the building itself. These include:

  • Fire rated construction — doors in particular

There are also active precautions. Active precautions include fire safety requirements in schools that have been put in place to detect and suppress a fire. These include:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Fire alarms
  • Designated fire doors that are simple to operate
  • Automatic sprinkler systems for high-risk areas, such as kitchens
  • Fire evacuation plans that are taught to and practised by the students and staff
  • The appointment of fire wardens. The responsibilities of fire wardens include leading students through the evacuation procedures and sweeping the areas to ensure nobody has been left behind
  • Fire risk assessments

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Examples of hazards in schools

There are various reasons for fires starting in schools. These include the deliberate starting of a fire, such as in the case of arson. This serious crime has been tackled in recent years with vital education, as well as mental health and counselling opportunities. Since 2001, cases of arson in schools have been in constant decline.

The majority of fires in schools occur accidentally. Some are completely unconnected to student actions, such as fires starting in kitchens as a result of cooking accidents. Others can be caused by a combination of student action and the school environment. Examples of hazards in schools include:

  • Electrical appliances – There are various electrical appliances that need to be used either for teaching purposes, such as electronic whiteboards and computers, or for appliances such as heaters or plug sockets which are needed to facilitate the effective day-to-day operation of the school. These appliances pose potential fire safety risks if messed around with by students. To combat this, effective education is needed to teach students about the dangers involved with not using electrical appliances appropriately.
  • Smoking – Smoking is universally banned on school premises, but it would be naive to assume that some students aren’t going to ignore the rules. Smoking poses a potential hazard in schools as students may not correctly put out the cigarette after use, or may smoke near flammable objects. Effective deterrence, smoke detectors and education can help to combat these risks.
  • Obstruction – Obstruction may not be the cause of any fires, but can certainly pose a great risk to the welfare of students and staff in the event of a fire. Obstructions refer to objects impeding fire exits and fire doors, preventing students and staff from successfully evacuating when needed. Regular checks, as well as greater education on the importance of keeping these pathways clear, can help to combat this issue.

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Fire safety education

Educating students is perhaps one of — if not the most — effective methods of preventing fires and keeping them safe if a fire does occur. There are many ways schools choose to implement effective fire safety education into their curriculums:

  • Teach students how to act appropriately during a fire – use standard teaching techniques to teach students about the stop, drop and roll method, as well as other methods to best keep themselves safe during a fire.
  • Conduct expected (and unexpected) fire drills – this will teach students how to act in the event of a fire through practise.
  • Provide maps and signs in classrooms – Students will become familiar with these maps and signs even when a fire isn’t present, so they instantly know where to go if a fire does occur.
  • Provide a designated location for students to meet once they exit – teach and practise bringing the students to this location so they are aware of where to meet once they have exited the building. Stress the importance of all meeting in one place for registering purposes and ensuring safety.

Fire Action is dedicated to the safety of everyone — from students to parents to staff. We offer a wealth of fire safety products and services, including everything you need to ensure your school is as safe as it can possibly be. To enquire further about any of the extensive services we offer, give our friendly team a call today.

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