While the number of school fires has decreased over recent years, they remain a major risk for schools. Each year around 1 in 20 schools experiences a fire and nearly 60% of school fires are started deliberately. The short-term effects of loss of facilities and equipment can be calculated, but the longer-term effects of loss of coursework, disruption of classes and lowering of morale are much harder to quantify. However, it is clear that a major fire is likely to disrupt a child’s education for many months and could mean postponing tests and exams.
Source – Building Bulletin 100 (BB 100)
Top Fire-Safety Tips for Schools
1- Arson Reduction
As the statement above says – 60% of all school fires are deliberate. Most are probably not meant to get out of control and started as a dare or just a laugh. Some however are malicious and planned. Nationally one in eight schools suffered an arson attack last year – costing about £65m a third of these were in London.
So how can we stop it happening? In reality – you can’t. But you can lower the risk of it happening by following simple rules.
- deter unauthorised entry onto the site;
- prevent unauthorised entry into the buildings;
- reduce the opportunity for an offender to start a fire;
- reduce the scope for potential fire damage;
- reduce subsequent losses and disruption resulting from a fire.
By being vigilant and aware of what a potential arsonist could burn and how accessible it is could greatly reduce the risk.
A common non-compliance found is that of storage of combustible items. The very nature of schools attracts large amounts of paper, cardboard etc with limited storage. It is sometimes the case that cupboards housing electrical equipment (fuseboards, servers) are requisitioned for storage which is a potentially dangerous mix of fuel and ignition in an enclosed area. The simple fire safety advice is to keep fuel sources and ignition/heat sources apart.
Another area that gets overlooked is the storage of gym mats. Again space is a premium and it is common to find mats stored vertically as opposed to horizontally. Also many areas are not suitable as gym mat stores.
- Gymnastic mats should be stored in a purpose-built store having a fire resistance of 60 minutes to British Standard 476: Parts 21 to 22, and where possible be ventilated to open air.
Source – The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended)
The reason for the stringent fire protection measures is that the mats produce toxic dense smoke when ignited. This will spread to other mats quickly if stored vertically. If the smoke breaches the enclosure there is a high risk of the escape routes becoming unusable due to lack of vision along with the dense black smoke which is a danger to life.
These are just a couple of examples of everyday issues found on Fire Safety Inspections in schools, however, many more factors need to be considered. For example a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) evacuation plans – can individuals with special needs, be accommodated within the general evacuation procedure?
For answers to this question and many more you need to speak to a quality third party accredited fire protection company to take care of your fire risk assessment along with any other fire safety & equipment requirements, Fire Safety Services is your single company solution to Fire Safety.
We are a third-party accredited company. This means that we are assessed independently on a regular basis to ensure we comply with the highest possible standards in fire safety. We are ISO 9001:2008 certified, NSI Gold Fire certified, LPCB approved and hold registration under the government backed CHAS scheme for health & safety. Furthermore, we are active members of the industry leading Fire Industry Association (FIA).
If you need help with fire safety in your school, contact us today on 08000 234114 and one of our helpful team will be happy to assist you.
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