School Fire Safety
Data collected in a recent study by insurers Zurich Municipal shows that 480 primary and secondary schools experienced a fire outbreak in 2019. It also found that Firefighters have been called out to nearly 2,000 school fires over the last three years in England. The cause of these fire ranges from kitchen fires, electrical faults, appliances malfunctioning and arson. The costs of repairs following these incidents can run onto millions of pounds.
While some new educational premises are built with sprinkler systems, many older school buildings do not have adequate fire protection. This is important because it can be effective in preventing small outbreaks of fire turning into serious and damaging fires. It was also found that fire detection measures such as smoke alarms and fire alarms were not always adequate, potentially delaying fire warning and safe evacuation.
As well as the risk of injury or loss of life and associated trauma it is important for schools to consider the risk of disruption to pupil’s learning if fires are able to grow and cause major damage to classrooms and other school buildings. The cost of repairs is significant but the upheaval and disruption than can be caused to teachers and pupils should not be underestimated either.
It is vital that school is a safe place for children in every way and this includes reducing the risk of fire wherever possible. Fire risk assessments for schools have been mandatory since 2005. It is a requirement that the fire risk assessment is carried out by a competent person with the correct knowledge, understanding and accreditation. It is also important to note that if there are any structural changes to the school the fire risk assessment will need to be reviewed.
A full assessment of the entire premises is required including classrooms, laboratories, assembly spaces, corridors, stairways outside space and access routes. Once the fire risk assessment has been completed, recommendations and requirements will be stated along with actions to reduce and remove any fire hazards. It is important to consider the needs of all those on the premises, this will include students, staff and visitors. It is also vital that consideration is given to people with limited mobility.
There is a lot to consider and it is extremely important to take the necessary steps to protect lives as well as the school premises. Because of this we would strongly recommend using a professional assessor. If you’d like our help, or to arrange a fire risk assessment for your school please get in touch, our qualified engineers will be happy to help.