10 Ways to Stay Fire Safe in School Buildings
All schools must ensure that fire precautions comply with the relevant health and safety legislation including The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and The Education (School Premises) Regulations 2012.
The Education (School Premises) Regulations provide that it must be possible for every part of a school or college building to be safely evacuated in case of fire.
Attention must be given to:
  • means of escape from the building;
  • the likely rate at which flames would spread across exposed surfaces;
  • the fire resistance of structures and materials in the building.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires employers to carry out risk assessments and record the significant findings, taking steps to reduce or remove the risks posed by fire.
The Education (School Premises) Regulations 2012 apply to all maintained schools in England and Wales, including nursery, community, foundation and voluntary schools, as well as pupil referral units. The premises of non-maintained special schools and independent schools approved by the Secretary of State for children with special educational needs are also subject to these regulations. It is important that all schools covered by the regulations adhere to these provisions.
10 Ways to Stay Fire Safe in School Buildings

1) 
Know Your System – Get things correct from the start

There are two types of Fire Protection to consider Active and Passive. Passive Fire Protection involves preventative measures to delay fire and smoke spreading, such as fire rated walls and doors. Passive Fire Protection is also designed to protect your school building structure from early collapse. Active Fire Precautions revolve around fire detection and suppression such as water mist systems, sprinklers, hold open devices and alarms capable of automatic fire detection. These provide early warnings and enable escape before the fire spreads.

2) Planned Preventative Maintenance

Having the correct system set up from the start is crucial but that is only the beginning. It is essential you appoint a company to service and maintain this system on a regular basis. Things to consider: Can the company work with the system you have? How much competence and experience do they have? Check their certification and accreditation for this. You need to feel secure in the knowledge the correct people are looking after your system because it may be your responsibility as one of the nominated persons. Schools can have some decisions taken out of their hands when it comes to install and supply but if for any reason you have concerns about a company and their competence to protect your school speak up.

3) Nomination of Responsible Person

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force on the 1st October 2006. If it is a workplace it designates the employer the Responsible Person (RP). If any other person has to some extent control then they could have duties under the Order. If it is not a workplace then any person having control to some extent or the owner and can be designated the Responsible Person. Those persons or a person acting on their behalf, are required to carry out certain fire safety duties which include ensuring the general fire precautions are satisfactory and conducting a fire risk assessment. If more than five persons are employed it has to be a written fire risk assessment.

4) Carry Out a Fire Risk Assessment in 5 Steps:

Step 1 Identify fire hazards
Step 2 Identify people at risk
Step 3 Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
Step 4 Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
Step 5 Review

5) Regularly Review your Risk Assessment. Consider Creating a Fire Safety Policy to include:

Arrangements          Staff Training        Fire Safety Provision         Fire Safety Management

6) Form your Fire Safety and Evacuation Plan as follows:
 
  • A clear passageway to all escape routes
  • Clearly marked escape routes that are as short and direct as possible
  • Enough exits and routes for all people to escape
  • Emergency doors that open easily
  • Emergency lighting where needed
  • Training for all employees to know and use the escape routes
  • A safe meeting point for staff
 
7) Raised Awareness of Individual Requirements

Consider specific disabilities for example and relevant risks such as, sleeping staff and children in boarding schools. Prepare and produce personal emergency evacuation plans whenever required.

8) Training, then more training
  • Basic fire safety matters
  • Actions to take upon fire discovery
  • Locations of fire exits and assembly point
  • Provide enhanced training for Fire Wardens to cover the use of fire extinguishers
 
9) Maintain a Fire Log Book

A principle requirement to monitor and prove compliance.

10) Keep Everyone Involved in Safety
  • Keep corridors clear
  • Understand when and why fire doors need to be open or closed and adhere accordingly
  • Keep wall displays and classrooms neat in a bid to reduce false alarms
  • Use Common Sense