Fire safety in schools: How to keep staff and students safe.

Fire safety in schools is an important topic that should never be taken lightly. This blog will give you all the information you need to understand what is required for school fire safety measures.

School fires can range from small external rubbish fires to larger, more damaging internal fires that seriously affect the operation of a school. 

Schools must ensure that the study environment for their students and staff is always up to date and safe.

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Fire safety practice in the UK is based on the Regulatory Reform order, and the reformed order doesn’t provide specific examples, such as fire safety in schools. Hence, we’ve written a guideline and explained what you need to consider when doing the fire safety risk assessment.

What is the leading cause of fire in schools in the UK?

Data from UK fire and rescue services (FRSs) reported by Zurich found only 2% of schools suffering from fire incidents had sprinklers fitted. Many of these buildings had poor fire detection and prevention measures. 

Listed below are the three leading causes of fires in schools in the UK.

  1. Arson

One of the major causes of fires in schools in the UK is arson. The unfortunate reason is not due to accidental fires, but more malicious intent. It is most common for arson to happen when the building is unoccupied, but this can also occur during school hours. An installed sprinkler system would be the best defence mechanism in such situations. 

  1. Accidental fires.

Just like intentional fires, unintentional fire incidents can occur. UK secondary schools have, on average, 1000 students enrolled, and staff members cannot monitor every student, especially high school students. 

In many cases, cigarettes are thrown in areas that are not fire-regulated, and there are instances where flammable chemicals can spill.

  1. Neglecting fire safety systems.

It is vital for school wardens and those responsible for planning and conducting the fire safety risk assessment to always ensure that sprinkles, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and any other fire detecting equipment are well maintained and functioning correctly.

Consequences of a fire in the school.

  1. Injuries

Fires often claimed the lives of innocent people. Over 20 years in which the UK has seen over 15,000 fires in schools, we’ve only had one person lose their life. Though this is a terrible incident, the victim wasn’t a student. 

Fire drills in schools and evacuation training are two of the main reasons why we have been lucky not to have significant casualties. 

This shows how important it is to have processes in place, and helps keep staff and students safe.

  1. Finance

A study by Zurick published on the 5th November 2020, states that firefighters have been called to nearly 2,000 school blazes in England alone for the past three years. The leading causes of fires were malfunctioning appliances or equipment, faulty electrics, arson and kitchen blazes.

The damage of larger fires in schools costs on average £2.8 million to repair and, in some cases, over £20 million. Unfortunately, not all schools can sustain such costs, leading to closures.

Aside from the financial costs and the risk to life.

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Fire can cause long-term disruption and damage to the lives of staff and children, including their education. It can destroy school records, school work and teachers’ notes, affect morale and feelings of safety, impact exam results, and lead to bad publicity.

Classrooms and community facilities can become unusable for long periods, and many classes may need temporary accommodation while rooms are rebuilt, or entire schools can be destroyed. 

Classrooms and community facilities can become unusable for long periods, and many classes may need temporary accommodation while rooms are rebuilt, or entire schools can be destroyed. Whole communities can be affected. And, of course, the most frightening thing is that many innocent lives are put at risk.

Who is responsible for fire safety in schools?

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Both the person responsible and fire wardens must do what?

The person responsible is your fire safety officer. Depending on the school, this can be one or a group of people who are knowledgeable about fire safety in schools. The headteacher will be responsible for fire safety, and the deputies will be fire wardens.

The person responsible must :

  • Deliver a fire risk assessment.
  • Communicate the risks found to all staff members.
  • Introduce and maintain fire safety measures.
  • Provide legally-mandated fire safety training to all staff members.
  • Plan emergency protocols such as fire evacuation procedures and assembly points.

Who do these regulations apply to?

Fire safety regulations apply to all different educational institutions. This includes:

  • Nurseries
  • Free schools
  • Specialized schools
  • Primary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Academies
  • Pupil referral units

Five main steps that should be covered in the risk assessment.

  1. Identifying any risks and hazards such as the source of ignition, oxygen, and fuel.
  2. Identifying people at risk both inside and outside school property. It is vital to identify those at risk, such as any member of staff or students who might have mobility issues or any other physical health-related issues. 
  3. The risk assessment must evaluate, remove, reduce, and protect every person who works within the school and take every precaution to prevent any risk of someone getting hurt if there is a fire.
  4. After the evaluation, the next step is to record, instruct, and train staff and students on how to avoid fire situations. For this step, you must record any significant findings and actions taken, give training, and notify those responsible about their responsibilities in case there’s ever a fire in the school.
  5. Review the guidelines regularly and ensure that everybody is provided with the necessary training.

Fire risk assessments are critical and shouldn’t be ignored. It safeguards the lives of staff, students, and school property. Paying attention to fire regulations ensures innocent lives and school property are always safe.

Does a school have to have a Fire Alarm?

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According to Gov.uk, all schools are legally required to have a fire safety plan. This is called a fire safety risk assessment (FSRA). 

In a small establishment, it is likely that a fire started can be detected easier, faster, and dealt with before a fire has time to spread and cause significant property damage or hurt someone.

As part of the evaluation and its findings, it is almost definite that the risk assessment will require the school to have fire alarms on all floors.

Fire alarms are a must, as they help alert everyone on the premises that there is a fire, allowing everyone to evacuate.

While there isn’t any specific legislation requiring schools to have a fire alarm, it is highly recommended that every school invest in them. 

It is also important to note that because schools use school bells to indicate when classes start or finish, the fire alarm and school bell sound differently. All staff members and students must perform fire drills, so everyone is clear on evacuating the premises in case of an actual fire incident.

What’s unique about 1st Attendance courses is that we can bring our team to your workplace and adapt our training sessions to suit you. 

If you have any questions, send us your enquiries here or click on the link below to get a quote.

What are the main causes of fire in the hospitality industry?

Every business, including the hospitality industry, has its unique fire dangers that must be addressed. Premises like hotels have a large number of people staying in them at any same time, which makes it of the utmost importance to have the best fire protection in place. But what are the main causes of fire in the hospitality industry?

Fire hazards in hotels

Several factors put hotels at risk of a fire hazard. They are high-risk environments because they have a high number of guests, the staff are sometimes overworked, and guests are also in unfamiliar surroundings. This can all make a possible evacuation more difficult.

Your fire safety strategy might be jeopardised by outdated fire safety equipment, layout modifications, and lack of organisation. Damaged fire doors, damaged smoke seals, clutter, and ill-fitting doors along escape routes are just a few of the common breaches discovered in hotels that can make it difficult for guests or workers to escape in an emergency. 

To mitigate the main causes of fire in hospitality settings, precautions should be taken. For example, conducting regular inspections and providing staff fire training sessions to employees every year will ensure that your hotel is prepared for any emergencies.

Accidents involving cooking equipment

When it comes to the main causes of fire in hotels or restaurants, kitchens are one of the most common starting points. Heated oil and fat can easily ignite if they overheat or are forgotten.

Commercial kitchens are notoriously hectic, with chefs and sous chefs rushing in all directions, making it an environment prone to accidents. Additionally, a lot of electrical equipment might cause a fire hazard.

You can do a few things to reduce the danger of a kitchen fire. The first step is to ensure that all employees are adequately taught to be aware of possible fire threats and to know how to respond in the event of a fire.

Different types of fire extinguishers should be used for the many fires that are likely to occur in a kitchen. Thus, it’s critical that everyone understands which type of extinguisher to use for which type of fire.

Electrical appliances 

Electrical appliances continue to be one of the main causes of fire in the hospitality industry and in both commercial and residential settings. 

For example, hairdryers and kettles in hotel rooms, lights and illumination in pubs and restaurants, as well as any heating/cooling systems, can all cause problems.

Electrical appliances are more likely to cause a fire if they are deteriorated or overused.

It’s critical that every appliance is inspected by a professional once a year to ensure that they’re in good working order and to offer you the best chance of catching any possible problems early on. 

Smoking

Despite smoking being prohibited almost everywhere these days and there is significantly fewer smokers overall, smoking is still a primary cause of fires, with carelessly dropped cigarettes that have not been properly extinguished being a common occurrence. 

If smoking is prohibited within your business, installing smoke alarms to detect violations is necessary. Where smoking is permitted, receptacles or ashtrays should be readily visible and accessible so cigarettes can be securely disposed of.

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Exit routes that are clogged

Exit pathways that are clogged are often the cause of fire in the hospitality industry. When boxes and trash are stored near a fire exit, these items can easily become a serious hazard and catch fire, leaving you with little time to respond and blocking important escape routes. This is a simple to prevent yet surprisingly prevalent source of the fire. 

Preventing fires with fire safety equipment

Hundreds of people might be thrown into an emergency scenario if a fire breaks out in a hotel or restaurant, and the business could suffer irreversible financial and infrastructure damage.

The only way to assist avert catastrophe is to take the necessary precautions and ensure that you have suitable fire safety equipment.

Detection systems, such as fire alarms, should be maintained and checked regularly to ensure that they are always ready to respond and provide the greatest chance for visitors and personnel to deal with the fire/escape. Alarms must be audible, and call points should be strategically located around the facility.

Firefighting equipment, emergency lights, and fire safety signage should all be properly identified, maintained, and defined for your hotel. In the case of an evacuation, emergency lights and signs will assist visitors and personnel, and staff training for firefighting equipment will immediately reduce the danger of a fire if one occurs. Understanding the main causes of fire in the hospitality industry is the first step in working to reduce them. 

At 1st Attendance, we are experts in staff fire training. Take a look at our courses and get in touch with us to discuss what the best option is for you and your team. 

Free staff fire safety training template

To help your business ensure fire safety in the workplace, we have created a free staff fire safety training template that you can use to plan your training sessions. In this article, we explain why it is important to do regular training as well as other steps you need to take to be compliant with the safety regulations.

All businesses are legally responsible for the safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public in the workplace. To ensure everyone’s safety, businesses are required by law to implement fire safety measures. This means that, if you are a business owner or manager, you need to conduct regular risk assessments to assess any hazards and provide staff fire safety training to all your employees.

Read on to learn about fire safety in the office and to download a practical fire safety procedures in the workplace template.

How to ensure fire safety in the workplace

As a business owner, you need to make sure that:

  • You conduct regular fire risk assessments
  • You conduct fire drills every year and plan for an emergency
  • You action any improvements as a result of the assessment and drills
  • The measures to reduce the risk of fire are in place and working
  • The premises emergency plan is up to date and ensures a safe evacuation in case of fire 
  • The staff knows what to do in case of fire.

If your staff haven’t been trained, or if you find room for improvement during a fire drill or a different fire risk assessment, you need to plan a new staff fire training session. Staff fire training courses equip employees with all the knowledge and skills they need in order to be prepared to act in the event of a fire. 

The training includes learning how to use equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets, as well as how to evacuate the building correctly and as fast as possible to keep everyone safe.

Do I need staff fire training?

All businesses should carry out fire safety training every year. In some circumstances, for instance, if an incident impacts your safety procedures or if there are any important changes to your building or the regulation, you should provide additional training. 

Businesses change all the time, so you should also ensure that any new employees receive fire safety training as soon as possible. 

Do I need to carry out a fire risk assessment?

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All businesses are required to carry out regular fire risk assessments as established by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The objective of a fire risk assessment is to find out whether the business has sufficient and appropriate measures in place and improve them if that is not the case. 

All work-related buildings, structures, and open spaces must comply with these requirements. These places include offices and shops, but also many other spaces such as care institutions, schools and other education facilities, warehouses, construction sites and more.

The assessment will help you identify any fire hazards and remove those risks, as well as to prepare an emergency plan and provide training. For this reason, it is recommended that you conduct your fire risk assessment before your staff fire safety training session so that you know that all the systems are in place in your workplace in case of an emergency.

 

Staff fire safety training templates

Once you have done your fire risk assessment and all the systems are in place in your workplace, it is time to plan your staff training. For your staff fire safety training, you need to consider many factors so, to help you, we’ve created a free staff fire safety training template with the main fire safety procedures in the workplace so that you don’t forget anything important.

This staff fire safety training template is simple and easy to use and have been specifically drafted to cater for any business type, including micro and small businesses, shops, factories and warehouses, residential care and small hotels and B&Bs. The template is available in Word format and is aimed at helping you train your employees.

The template contains a list of different types of training so that you can keep track of everything that your employees have learned during their staff fire safety training session, including common causes of fire, how to prevent fires and what to do in case of an emergency.


Download your free fire safety training template here

Professional staff fire safety training

The best way to learn the best practice workplace safety standards is to find a professional provider of staff training. At 1st Attendance, we are leaders in fire safety training and we offer both on-location training (delivered UK wide at your location) and interactive live video training. We offer training for fire wardens and fire marshals, as well as fire awareness training and fire extinguisher training. Do you have any questions or would like more information? Contact us and we will be happy to help.