School children learning about the risks of fireFire risk assessments for schools have been made mandatory by the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order of 2005. It mandates for a responsible person of any non-domestic premises to carry out an assessment in order to eliminate the risk of fire and identify persons at risk. Any non-domestic premises, including schools that employ or house more than 5 people should maintain a record of the significant findings of such assessments. The law will stipulate the definition of a Responsible Person (RP).

It’s a balancing act

A fire hazard comes with two components that are balanced against each other. The first component is the possibility of a fire occurring in school while the second component is the magnitude of the consequences of that particular fire. You need to take time to prepare before you start the fire risk assessment. Much of the information will come through your staff, which includes the teachers of the school and elder students. Also, information given to you from people responsible for the school building will also play an important part in this regard. You will require to take a comprehensive tour of the school premises in order to add, delete or amend the details that you received through the earlier channels.

The fire risk assessment should be carried out in a systematic and practical way with enough time allocated for the process. You need to consider the whole premises including outdoor locations for this process. You can divide the premises such as classrooms, assembly spaces, offices, laboratories, stairways, corridors and external routes. You need to consider the requirements of all people in the premises when preparing the assessment including any disabled people.

The five step risk assessment

An assessment plan for schools would require at least 5 steps in completing it. The first step would be to identify the hazards such as the source oxygen, source of ignition and the source of fuel. The second step is to identify the people at risk within and outside the premises. The people at immediate risk should be highlight in this step.

The third step is to evaluate the risk of a fire occurring. What are the risks for people from such a fire? You need to find ways to remove or reduce fire hazards, and remove or reduce the risk to people. Some actions in this regard would be to use escape routes, proper lighting, fire fighting, fire alarm log books, signs/notices, proper maintenance of fire alarm systems and prior warnings.

The fourth step of a fire risk assessment plan would be to record, instruct and train people to avoid fire situations. Record significant findings and the actions taken, instruct relevant people and cooperate with others while providing necessary training. The final step is to review the plan as and when required. In fact, your finalised plan should be kept under constant review in order to make the best use of it.

Fire risk assessments are extremely important for schools to safeguard the lives of innocent students as well as the premises of the school. There are many professional assessors that could be employed to complete the survey for your school not least us here at Fire & Electrical Safety. Whoever you choose, should be highly experienced and knowledgeable in conducting the risk assessment on behalf of your organisation.