Perhaps it goes without saying, but fire safety is especially important in schools, and there are many reasons for this. Not only do schools pack in hundreds of children and/or teenagers into a small space, but they also have chemistry labs, technology workshops, and huge foot traffic jams as pupils move from class to class. There are certain fire safety regulations that relate to schools, including the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and the Education (School Premises) Regulations 2012. This blog post isn’t an official guide to fire safety legislation in schools; it is an informal introduction to the increased fire risks in schools and it offers some helpful insight and advice.
The Concentration of Students
Perhaps the biggest reason to take school fire safety more seriously than with other types of premises is that schools pack more people into them than any other venue (except perhaps a concert hall!). Hundreds of vulnerable children and/or teenagers are packed into classrooms and the potential loss of life and risk of injury are much higher than with most other kinds of fire.
This risk increases significantly when you take into consideration that school pupils are younger and less likely to act responsibly in an emergency. And this problem is compounded further when you consider that there are times throughout the day (break time, lunchtime, between classes) when the entire school is disorganised and responsible adults are unable to keep track of many of the pupils.
These are just some of the reasons why fire safety has to be taken very seriously in schools and why regular fire drills ought to be carried out to make sure that pupils completely understand what they need to do and where they need to go in the event of a fire.
Make Adequate Fire Safety Precautions Throughout the School
It is of vital importance that a thorough fire safety risk assessment is carried out. This assessment will evaluate the likely rate that the fire would spread throughout the building, the fire resistance of structures and materials, as well as the various fire escapes available to the students and staff. Carrying out a complete fire safety check is the first thing any responsible person must do and special consideration must be given to the sheer number of students there are and the disarray they may cause if they panic.
Recognise and Make Safe the Biggest Fire Risks
Anywhere with hundreds of children and teenagers will ways be at risk of fire. But some parts of the school may be more at risk than others. It’s important to figure out which parts of the school are more at risk. One type of room that is sometimes overlooked is the various toilets dotted throughout the school. There is a lot of toilet roll around to serve as fuel and a few teenagers smoking in the toilets could potentially cause a fire that could spread to other parts of the school. Make sure to enforce a strict no-smoking policy in school, and educate all of the students about the potential risks.
Chemistry labs, with their array of chemicals, flammable desks and text books, are also a much higher fire risk than the average classroom. The same goes for technology workshops with all of the sawdust and heavy machinery. Computer suites are also a higher risk due to the chance of an electrical fire starting from overloading the circuits. You will need to carry out specific safety checks on each of these areas, and you may need to invest in specific fire-safety equipment, such as powder fire extinguishers for chemical fires, or perhaps some of our fire curtains or fire shutters for the technology workshops. When you’ve done everything you can to prevent a fire from starting, the next thing you can do is take measures to prevent it spreading any further.