Fire safety in schools

14 December 2022 AGF Fire Protection

fire risk assessment services

The UK government’s Fire safety in new and existing school buildings guidance explains the responsibilities of schools under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO). The regulations apply to all schools, including nursery schools, primary and secondary schools, academies, free schools, special schools and pupil referral units. 

Under the RRO, it is the school’s responsibility to put fire prevention procedures in place:

  • working fire detection and alarm systems
  • adequate signage
  • regular fire drills
  • communication to ensure staff and students are all familiar with fire prevention and emergency evacuation procedures

Regular fire risk assessments must be undertaken, and all fire precautions must be adequate and up to date. 

The government has published detailed guidance on Fire safety risk assessment for educational premises. It states: “Good management of fire safety is essential to ensure that fires are unlikely to occur; that if they do occur they are likely to be controlled or contained quickly, effectively and safely; or that, if a fire does occur and grow, everyone in your premises is able to escape to a place of total safety easily and quickly.”

Fire safety duties in schools

In order to comply with the RRO, you must appoint one or more competent persons to undertake fire safety duties. A competent person must have the training, experience and knowledge necessary to implement all these measures. Competent persons must ensure that all fire safety risks are identified and measures are implemented properly as well as being communicated to students, parents and permanent and temporary staff. If your school is used for community events and activities, e.g. evening classes, the organisers of those events and activities must also be informe. 

Fire risk assessment for schools

Fire risk assessments are legal requirements for all educational and commercial establishments. They are designed to identify possible fire hazards and reduce the risk as far as reasonably practicable. A fire risk is when there is a chance of harm occurring; a fire hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm, e.g. the close presence of something that could fuel a fire near something that can spark a fire (such as chemical substances in close proximity to bunsen burners in a science classroom). 

As part of a fire safety risk assessment, you must also put in place arrangements that will ensure the safety of your students and staff in the event of an emergency. These include an emergency evacuation plan, fire safety training and fire practices as well as putting in place appropriate safety measures and communicating to all interested parties the measures you have taken and the risks. 

Fire risk assessments must take the safety of everyone into account, paying particular attention to those with disabilities or special needs, and younger children. You must also ensure that staff members take adequate fire safety measures and don’t do anything that might place anyone at risk. 

Reviewing and revising your fire risk assessment

If there are changes made to your school premises that might affect your fire precautions, or you think your fire risk assessment may no longer be valid, then you must do another fire risk assessment to identify additional fire risks. This could include the presence of people with disabilities, the increase in use of hazardous substances, a failure in any of your fire equipment, or substantial changes to furniture or school equipment. 

See the government’s guidance for more detailed information about fire risk assessments for schools. If you would rather outsource your risk assessment and other aspects of your school’s fire safety services, please feel free to contact us to discuss your needs. AGF Fire Protection is one of the UK’s leading fire safety companies. We have been operating for over 20 years and look after the fire safety management needs of many educational institutions. Our specialist team of fully qualified Consultants have all previously worked for the UK Fire Service, so you can rest assured you’re in safe hands.

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