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A short guide to fire safety in schools

A short guide to fire safety in schools

Fire safety in schools should be a core focus of your health and safety training to ensure staff and students are safe at all times. With roughly 40 UK schools per month suffering from fires in 2019, ensuring that fire safety practices are addressed should be of the utmost importance to all schools across the UK.

With that said, it’s clear to see that fires in schools are not unusual. In fact, some common ways that fires start in schools are:

  • Arson (which accounted for 18% of school fires in 2018-19)
  • Faulty Equipment
  • Accumulation of rubbish
  • Smoking

Additionally, schools could be at a higher risk of injuries as a result of fires due to the number of teachers and pupils on-site at one time. 

However, if schools work towards compliance with current legislation and implement good fire safety practice, the chances of fires occurring or causing harm can be significantly reduced.

Fire safety regulations for schools

Although there are no specific regulations for schools surrounding fire safety, all schools must adhere to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Who is responsible for fire safety in schools?

This order states that any person who has some level of control in premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

This is usually a fire marshal or responsible person who educates students and staff on the location of fire assembly points; evacuates students from the building during fire drills and checks the building to ensure no one has been left behind.

What are the key rules under the order?

  • Schools must carry out a fire risk assessment identifying any possible dangers and risks
  • They must also consider who may be especially at risk
  • Schools should get rid of or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left
  • They should take other measures to make sure there is protection if flammable materials are used or stored
  • They should create a plan to deal with any emergency
  • Periodically review their findings

Best fire safety practice for schools

The main focus of fire safety in schools is to prevent a fire from occurring in the first place. The risk of a fire starting is reduced if the fire hazards are identified, and suitable control measures are put in place.

But what can these control measures include? Here are some of our top tips:

Carry out fire risk assessments and update them regularly

Fire risk assessments are essential for promoting fire safety in schools. They evaluate the chances of a fire occurring, whilst educating teachers and staff on how to avoid fires. 

Enforce a “No Smoking” policy on the school grounds

Cigarettes are a major risk factor for fires, so a no-smoking policy helps to eliminate this risk and keep students and staff safe.

Ensure fire doors are kept shut

Fire doors help to prevent the spread of fires should they occur. As a result, it’s crucial to keep fire doors shut at all times.

Have electrical equipment PAT tested regularly

PAT testing ensures that your electrical equipment is in good working order, thereby reducing the risk of fires in schools.

Ensure flammable substances are stored safely

School environments such as science labs and cleaning cupboards are likely to have flammable substances within them. Taking extra care to store these correctly will help to efficiently eliminate the risk of fires.

Regularly dispose of waste

Rubbish accumulation can increase the risk of fires occurring on the school premises, so it’s important that any waste is disposed of on a regular basis.

Make sure that furniture and fixtures are fire retardant

Fire retardant furniture and fixings prevent heat build-up and burn slowly, preventing fire development and stopping fires from spreading quickly in schools.

What fire safety training do school staff require?

The order states that:

The responsible person must ensure that his employees are provided with adequate safety training.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Section 21

Here at iHASCO, we offer a wide range of online fire safety training courses designed to promote fire safety in schools. These are specifically created for school staff and they’re included in our extensive library of online courses: Fire Awareness in Education Training.

Every member of staff legally requires some form of fire safety training and this online course is an effective and hassle-free way to ensure that your school is working towards compliance with current legislation, as well as providing an easily accessible record of staff training.

This course is CPD Accredited and IOSH Approved and can be completed in as little as 35 minutes before providing the user with a printable certificate upon completion.

Fire Safety in Education
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