Fire Risk Assessments for Schools, Colleges and Universities

Protect your pupils and premises with expert fire risk assessments from Fire Safety Solutions.

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Fire Risk Assessments for Offices

Fire Risk Assessments for Educational Premises

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Keep your students, staff, and premises safe from fire with tailored fire risk assessments from FSS. With our expert guidance, you can have confidence that your facility is protected, you are compliant with fire safety regulations, and you meet Ofsted fire safety requirements, too. Whether you’re overseeing a bustling campus, halls or residence, or a school, we can help.

Our team of experienced fire safety professionals are here to provide you with comprehensive fire risk assessments built around the unique elements of your educational premises.

  • We simplify complex fire safety regulations for schools, colleges, and universities.
  • Our experts offer robust advice and guidance to ensure the safety of students and staff.
  • Ensure full compliance with fire safety regulations, keeping your educational facility safe and secure.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

Fire safety is paramount in any educational establishment where the wellbeing of students and staff is the ultimate priority. A fire risk assessment for schools is a systematic process aimed at identifying fire hazards, assessing existing safety measures, estimating risk levels, and advising on the mitigation of fire risks.

These assessments are comprehensive evaluations that cover a range of factors, including the adequacy of emergency routes and exits, the effectiveness of fire detection and fighting equipment, the storage of dangerous substances, and the robustness of fire evacuation procedures. Evacuation plans and escape routes must be clear and well maintained, ensuring that people at risk, such as the vulnerable pupils, can safely exit the school premise in the event of a fire.

Additionally, fire risk assessments are integral to safety training for the responsible persons, such as school administrators and teachers, who must remain vigilant regarding potential fire hazards. The assessments culminate in a detailed risk assessment report which serves as a critical document for safety management within the educational building. It establishes safety measures to be implemented and provides a trajectory for ongoing safety maintenance and emergency preparedness.

With so many elements to consider, many educational organisations choose to entrust the completion of a school fire risk assessment to a professional fire safety company.

Relevant Legislation for Fire Risk Assessments in Schools

The importance of regular fire risk assessments in school settings cannot be overstated. These assessments serve as a critical line of defence in ensuring the safety of students and staff from the threats posed by accidental fires. In the UK, it is more than just a safety measure - it is a legal mandate. To comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all educational premises including schools, colleges, and universities must:

  • Ensure procedures are in place to reduce the likelihood of fire.
  • Maintain fire detection and alarm systems.
  • Ensure staff and pupils are familiar with emergency evacuation procedures.

It is also important that:

  • Fire risk assessments are kept up to date.
  • Fire precautions remain current and adequate (they should be reviewed in detail when significant changes are made to a school’s premises).

At Fire Safety Solutions, we specialise in helping schools and universities navigate these requirements seamlessly. Our comprehensive fire risk assessments for educational premises are designed to not only meet but exceed regulatory standards.

Key Points to Consider in Fire Risk Assessments for Schools

Educational establishments are bound by the rigorous guidelines set forth in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff and students. A key aspect of these regulations is the requirement to establish coherent emergency routes and ensure reliable fire detection and combating systems are in place. In fulfilling this mandate, educational premises must address the safe storage of potentially hazardous substances, the ready availability of firefighting equipment, and the implementation of dynamic evacuation plans that are well communicated to all occupants.

Through organised and regular fire risk assessments, which should be reviewed annually or after significant changes to the school’s layout, schools can certify the adequacy and efficacy of the fire precautions they have established.

Types of Buildings and their Safety Risks

School buildings can present unique safety risks depending on their age, design, and construction methods. Particularly, older school buildings – such as those built using the Consortium of Local Authorities Special Programme (CLASP) pre-fab system from the 1950s to the 1980s – can be problematic. These often have insufficient compartmentation, as well as spaces above false ceilings that can permit a fire to spread rapidly and undetected.

Compartmentalisation plays a crucial role in mitigating the spread of fire within schools, safeguarding the lives of students, staff, and visitors. By dividing buildings into separate compartments with fire-resistant doors, walls, and floors, the progression of flames and smoke can be contained, allowing for safer evacuation routes and minimising property damage.

In the context of fire risk assessments for schools, it is imperative to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of compartmentalisation measures. This involves inspecting fire doors to ensure they meet stringent regulations, such as those outlined in the UK's Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and Building Regulations.

Fire doors must be properly installed and kept in good working condition to effectively compartmentalise fire and smoke. Fire doors should be FD30s rated, which confirms these have a minimum 30 minute fire resistance. These doors should also have a British Standard sign affixed to the face of the door, which should state ‘Fire Door Keep Shut’ or ‘Fire Door Keep Clear’, depending on the location of the door.

Incorporating an assessment of compartmentalisation measures into the broader fire risk assessment framework ensures that schools are equipped to effectively manage fire safety risks and protect their occupants.

Evacuation Procedures and Escape Routes

Developing sound evacuation procedures and establishing well-maintained escape routes are essential components of a fire safety plan for any educational institution. When creating these plans, schools must take into account a variety of conditions, including the building layout, different times of the day such as lunchtime, and the needs of all people within the school.

An effective evacuation plan is a blueprint for safety and is especially critical in schools, where responsible parties must ensure the welfare of children, staff, and visitors. Planning should account for those who might require additional support, including students with disabilities, by establishing customised Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEP).

The evacuation plan must incorporate considerations for potential obstacles, such as the complexities of evacuating large numbers of students during peak times. Maintaining daily records of all present individuals also plays a crucial role in the successful execution of these plans.

Evacuation routes must be regularly assessed for accessibility and reliability, with any obstructions promptly addressed. Impromptu fire drills, ideally once every term, are invaluable in gauging the practicality of the evacuation process, revealing both the readiness of the school community and potential improvements to the established procedures.

To safeguard the safety of everyone on a school's premises, comprehensive and high-quality training in emergency evacuations is indispensable. Staff should be equipped with the knowledge to efficiently evacuate buildings in the event of a fire, with fire safety induction and evacuation training provided.

Fire Safety Signage in Schools

Fire safety signage is critically important for schools to ensure the swift and safe evacuation of students, staff, and visitors during a fire emergency. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 mandate the use of appropriate fire safety signage in public buildings, including schools. These signs serve several crucial purposes, including guidance during emergencies and the identification of safety equipment.

By adhering to the requirements of fire safety legislation and implementing appropriate signage, schools can enhance their preparedness for fire emergencies, minimise risks to staff and students, and facilitate efficient evacuation procedures.

Fire Detection and Alarm Systems in Schools

Fire detection and alarm systems are an integral component of fire safety in educational settings such as primary schools, secondary schools, and higher education institutions. To mitigate the risks associated with school fires, thorough and regular assessments of these systems are crucial. These tests ensure that the detection mechanisms are functioning optimally, are installed in the right places, and can provide an early warning in the event of a fire, allowing for timely evacuation.

For effective fire detection, schools must have smoke alarms throughout the premises, with particular attention to having working batteries at all times. Fire risk assessors play a vital role by examining the smoke alarms and other fire alarm systems to validate their readiness for emergencies.

In Scotland and Wales, sprinklers are mandatory in all new and substantially refurbished schools. In England, advice from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) tells us that “it is therefore possible to comply with regulations without sprinkler or smoke extract systems”. The results of your fire risk assessment may prompt the installation of sprinkler systems to help mitigate serious risk of fire in areas such as science labs or kitchens.

Fire Fighting Equipment in Schools

In the UK, schools have legal obligations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure the provision and maintenance of appropriate fire-fighting equipment. This includes equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire blankets, and hose reels.

Schools must ensure that fire-fighting equipment is strategically located throughout the premises, easily accessible, and suitable for the types of fires likely to occur. Regular inspections and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment are also mandatory to ensure that it remains in good working condition and ready for use in the event of a fire emergency.

In addition to providing and maintaining fire-fighting equipment, schools in the UK are legally obligated to ensure that staff receive adequate training in how to use this equipment effectively.

Electrical Appliances and Wiring Safety

High concentrations of electrical equipment in classrooms paired with aging infrastructure make schools much more susceptible to electrical fires. PAT testing and precautionary practices such as avoiding socket overload, testing the integrity of wires and outlets, and prioritising routine inspections, repairs and upgrades are fundamental to fire risk management in schools.

Documenting and Implementing Fire Safety Measures in Educational Premises

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Without proper documentation of a fire risk assessment, schools do not comply with UK fire safety laws. UK Government guidance for fire safety in schools instructs that the organisation’s fire safety policy should be set out in writing, and should include a plan of action to reduce the hazards and risks identified in your fire safety risk assessment.

A well-documented written fire risk assessment is not only a compliance measure, but also a functional tool for managing risks effectively. With annual reviews, the documentation becomes a living record that should parallel the evolving nature of potential fire risks in your educational premises.

Creating an Action Plan from your Fire Risk Assessment

Once risks are identified, creating an actionable plan to mitigate them becomes the next vital step. Installing fire doors, testing fire alarms, and establishing escape routes and an evacuation plan are the first steps to help mitigate the risk of fire. This should be coupled with staff training and regular fire drills, ensuring that staff and students understand the safe evacuation route during an emergency.

Referencing government guidance documents and school fire risk assessment templates can help you understand the specifics of fire safety standards, from which you can create an accurate checklist of fire safety equipment and required tests. To help ensure you have a comprehensive fire safety plan, we would recommend choosing a fire safety professional such as the team at Fire Safety Solutions to help with this.

Who is Responsible for Fire Safety in Schools?

The responsibility for fire safety in schools primarily falls upon the 'responsible person', who is often the school's facilities manager or headteacher. This individual is tasked with ensuring that the school complies with fire safety legislation, including the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. While schools have the option to conduct fire risk assessments internally, in depth knowledge of fire safety regulations and best practices are required, which is why many opt to engage the services of a professional fire safety company to ensure compliance.

Within the school, the responsibility for liaising with the fire safety company and overseeing the implementation of fire safety measures often rests with the designated fire safety officer or the facilities manager. This individual plays a key role in coordinating fire safety efforts, monitoring compliance, and ensuring that the school provides a safe environment for students, staff, and visitors.

Ensuring Compliance with Fire Safety Regulations

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Compliance with fire safety laws is non-negotiable for schools, and this begins with a comprehensive written fire risk assessment. This crucial document should outline all identified risks and the preventive or corrective measures in place.

Regular servicing and inspection of all fire safety equipment, in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, is necessary to keep up with compliance. Annual reviews of the fire risk assessment and continuous upkeep of all fire-related systems and safety measures are essential to keeping both students and staff protected from potential fire hazards.

Fire Safety Solutions - Your Partner in Fire Safety

Compliance with fire safety laws is non-negotiable for schools, and this begins with a comprehensive written fire risk assessment. This crucial document should outline all identified risks and the preventive or corrective measures in place.

Regular servicing and inspection of all fire safety equipment, in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, is necessary to keep up with compliance. Annual reviews of the fire risk assessment and continuous upkeep of all fire-related systems and safety measures are essential to keeping both students and staff protected from potential fire hazards.

Frequently Asked Questions
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How often should a fire risk assessment be done in a school?

In the UK, fire risk assessments for schools should be conducted regularly to ensure ongoing compliance with fire safety regulations and to address any changes in the school environment or operations that may impact fire risks.

While there is no specific timeframe stipulated in legislation for how often fire risk assessments should be carried out in schools, it is generally recommended that assessments be reviewed annually or whenever there are significant changes to the premises, such as renovations, alterations, or changes in occupancy or use.

Who is responsible for conducting your school’s fire risk assessment?

The responsibility for conducting a school's fire risk assessment typically falls upon the 'responsible person', who is often the school's management or headteacher. The responsible person has a legal obligation under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure the safety of occupants within the premises, including students, staff, and visitors, by conducting a thorough fire risk assessment.

While the responsible person may choose to conduct the assessment themselves if they have the necessary expertise, it is common for schools to enlist the services of a professional fire safety company to carry out the assessment. If you are looking for a fire safety specialist to help your school complete a comprehensive fire risk assessment, we can help. Call us today on 023 92 696596 or complete our online form.

Is it a legal requirement to have a fire risk assessment?

Yes. It is a legal requirement for most non-domestic premises, including schools, to have a fire risk assessment conducted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The responsible person is obligated to carry out a fire risk assessment and to ensure that appropriate fire safety measures are in place to protect occupants from the risk of fire.

The fire risk assessment must be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary, particularly if there are changes to the premises or its use that may impact fire safety. Failure to comply with the legal requirement to conduct a fire risk assessment can result in penalties, enforcement notices, or legal action.

Is fire safety training mandatory in schools?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a legal obligation on the responsible person to ensure that staff receive adequate fire safety training. This training should cover essential topics such as fire prevention, actions to take in the event of a fire, how to use firefighting equipment, evacuation procedures, and the location of fire exits and assembly points.

Additionally, staff should receive regular refresher training to reinforce their knowledge and ensure they remain prepared to respond effectively to fire emergencies.

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