school building

Fire Risk Assessments for Schools

We have seen a few news stories recently referring to premises where children are present having inadequate safety measures in place. While the majority of these stories relate to nursery settings it got us thinking about how we can be sure that our children and young people are kept safe.

Fire risk assessments for schools have been made mandatory by the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order of 2005. This consolidated and rationalised the previous fire safety legislation. It mandates for a responsible person of any non-domestic premises to carry out an assessment in order to identify and reduce or eliminate the risk of fire and identify the people 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.

A fire hazard comprises two components. The first component is the possibility of a fire occurring in a school and the second is the potential consequences of that particular fire. It is important to take time to prepare before you start the fire risk assessment. Much of the information needed will come through your staff, which includes the teachers at the school and possibly older students. Information given to you from the people responsible for the school building will also play an important part in this process.

You will be required to take a comprehensive tour of the entire premises in order to add, delete or amend the details that you received.The fire risk assessment should be approached in a logical, systematic and practical way with enough time allocated for it to be carried out thoroughly. You will need to consider the whole premises including outdoor spaces. You can divide the premises such as classrooms, assembly spaces, offices, laboratories, stairways and corridors. You are required to consider the needs of all people on the premises when preparing the assessment including anyone with limited mobility or a disability.

An assessment plan for schools will require 5 steps. The first step is to identify the hazards such as the source of oxygen, source of ignition and the source of fuel. The second step is to identify the people at risk both within and outside the premises. Those people at immediate risk should be highlighted at this point.

The third step is to evaluate the risk of a fire occurring and decide on control measures. This would include identifying the risks for people from a fire. You then need to find ways to remove or reduce fire hazards and remove or reduce the risk to people. Some actions related to this may be the use of escape routes, provision of firefighting equipment and proper maintenance of fire alarm systems .

The fourth step of a fire risk assessment plan is to record your findings, this is a legal requirement. In recording your findings, you can show that you have identified hazards, decided who may be harmed and show your plan to reduce or eliminate risks and hazards, this may include providing the appropriate training. The final step is to review the plan regularly as and when required to ensure that any changes are taken into account.

Fire risk assessments are extremely important for schools to safeguard the lives of students and staff as well as the school premises. Please get in touch if you are unsure of your responsibilities or need help or advice.