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Ten top tips for school fire safety

As fire and security alarm specialists with experience in carrying out the installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems within both private and public schools, colleges, academies and universities, Tecserv UK offers its top ten tips for fire safety in education.

Our tips are aimed at both pupils and staff and will help to their improve understanding of fire risks, help to prevent false fire alarm activations and ultimately ensure your people, processes and property are safe.

1. Fire Safety Processes & Procedures 

There will probably be a team of fire wardens and persons responsible for fire safety across larger campuses, so it’s important to ensure a record is kept of who is actually present in school at all times to ensure there are no gaps in responsibility.

It’s important that staff and pupils know who their fire warden is, that they fully understand the fire drill and that it is practised regularly. Many school fires are the result of pranks that have gone wrong. By holding fire safety briefings you will be able to show examples and highlight their consequences. These sessions can be very thought-provoking and will help to deter behaviours that are likely to cause a fire risk.

2. Dangers Caused by Using Own Devices

Many pupils and staff will bring their own mobile phones and other electronic devices onto campus. Encourage best practice by providing PAT-tested charging points and asking people to never leave devices charging whilst unattended.

3. Accurate Record Keeping

Ensure pupil and visitor registers are always completed so that should a fire break out everyone who is in the building can be accounted for. If you are hosting visitors, make sure they are given a short fire safety briefing as part of their welcome procedure.

4. Fire Equipment

The person or persons responsible for fire safety should ensure the school fire alarm system, smoke detectors and other fire equipment such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers and fire blankets are regularly maintained. Make sure you know where this equipment is located – particularly where the ‘break glass’ in case of fire emergency call points are located. The quicker the fire alarm is sounded the greater chance everyone has of being evacuated to safety.

5. Evacuation Routes and Fire Exits

In a school, it can be tempting to erect temporary displays of student artwork or to promote events. Don’t be afraid to report the obstruction to your fire warden. Make sure you know where your nearest fire exit routes are and the safest route to your fire assembly point – especially if you are on an upper floor – and never use the lift.

6. Practice Fire Drills:

Understand the audible and non-audible alarms your fire detectors will emit and the ensure you have been involved in a fire drill so that you know what to do in the event of a fire and can get to safety.

7. Smoking: 

If your campus has a designated smoking area, be vigilant and ensure all cigarettes are completely extinguished and butt-ends placed in a suitable receptacle.

8. School equipment

Schools may generate a lot of paper and cardboard waste and store many hazardous materials such as chemicals in science labs. Other equipment such as gym mats and other sports equipment may burn very quickly and emit toxic gases, so it is important to ensure they are stored properly in fire resistant stores. Ensure paper waste is not allowed to build up and stored in a metal bin store that can be locked. This will also help deter acts of vandalism and arson.

9. Maintain and test

A regime of periodic fire alarm testing and maintenance is a legal requirement to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations. To create a good safety culture, regular tests of the fire safety systems and equipment should be implemented and recorded. Do not be afraid to question teachers if you think this is not occurring.

10. Be alert

It’s easy to think someone else will deal with it – if you see something that may compromise fire safety – even if it is not directly related to your area – report it to your fire safety officer. Building works or other disruptions to roads and other premises around your school may have a knock-on effect. Don’t be afraid to mention it to your fire warden – better to be safe than sorry!

When a fire breaks out a fast and trained response from those immediately involved can make such a difference. The speed at which the fire alarm sounds and the fire service called can save lives and limit damage.

Only use a fire extinguisher if it is safe to do so in order to aid your speedy exit from the building – the number one responsibility of a responsible individual or fire warden to get you, your fellow pupils, teachers and any visitors to your school evacuated to safety in a controlled and organised manner.

If you would like to know who we can help protect your school, college or university campus with fire alarms, intruder alarms, access control systems and CCTV surveillance equipment, please complete the enquiry form below.

Mark Smith

Mark has spent his working career in the fire alarm industry, in which he is highly respected by his colleagues and competitors alike. Mark often provides technical support to other fire alarm companies and even alarm equipment manufacturers. He also uses his experience to train engineering personnel.

Posted on: 15 May 2018
Posted in: Advice, Education