Fire Safety Risk Assessment and Training for Schools & Nurseries
Key considerations for keeping kids safe from fire!
This guide will help you understand fire safety regulations and your obligations when looking after minors, and the importance of risk assessments, policies and training.
Every day, parents place their children in your care, entrusting that their safety and welfare will be protected.
Whether you are an independent school, free school, special school, nursery, pre-school, primary or secondary, you have responsibility for ensuring that all pupils not only receive the best possible education, but do so within a safe and nurturing environment.
Fire safety is a key issue - especially in schools where incidents of fire are unfortunately very common. Government statistics reveal there were 635 fires in schools in 2012 and one in eight schools suffered an arson attack in 2011.
For leadership teams, the implications of a fire can be severe - from potential loss of life, to injury, the destruction of property, fines and imprisonment, if it is deemed that safety obligations were not met. In the digital world we now live in, there’s also the potential for long-term damage to reputation, which can be very difficult to overcome.
Prevention is always better than cure and nowhere is this sentiment more true than when caring for minors. By providing staff with the right training, conducting comprehensive risk assessments and ensuring you have strong policies and procedures in place, you can greatly reduce your risk.
Your legal obligations
As a school or early years’ care provider, you have responsibility for managing the risk of fire in a number of ways:
- As an employer managing a safe working environment
- As educational premises
- As a residential care provider if you offer boarding
Your fire safety obligations include carrying out a comprehensive fire risk assessment and having all employees undergo fire safety training at least once a year. For full details about your obligations, please visit the Gov.uk website.
Practical Fire Safety Training
The best way to prepare staff, so they’re competent and feel confident when faced with an emergency situation, is not by sitting behind a desk, or doing an online worksheet. It is through practical training that closely simulates a real-life situation they may face – such as a fire in a classroom.
At Benfield Field, we use the latest technology to recreate such scenarios, without causing any disruption. This includes goggles that are worn to replicate reduced vision in a smoke-filled room and laser fire extinguishers. We also give staff members the opportunity to use real fire extinguishers in a controlled environment.
Learn more about our fire safety training.
Know the hazards
There are many potential fire hazards within a school or nursery setting. Having specific policies and procedures in place is key to managing these risks. Examples of some of the things you need to think about are detailed here:
|Sleeping areas||Schools offering boarding facilities need to comply with residential fire safety regulations. This includes comprehensive fire protection for all aspects of any building used for this purpose, but also any building that is attached or linked in any way.|
|Electrical items||Offices, computer rooms and technology blocks are high risk areas. All electrical items need to be PAT tested. One area which is often overlooked is electrical items that have been brought in by staff or pupils, such as mobile phones and other electronic devices. The charging of mobile phones is a risk and is something you need to address in your mobile phone usage policy.|
|Kitchens||Offices, computer rooms and technology blocks are high risk areas. All electrical items need to be PAT tested. One area which is often overlooked is electrical items that have been brought in by staff or pupils, such as mobile phones and other electronic devices. The charging of mobile phones is a risk and is something you need to address in your mobile phone usage policy.|
|Arson||Fires that are the result of arson are all too common. There are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of it happening, such as by having a locked compound for your bins that is at least eight metres away from the building.|
|Contractors||You are responsible for ensuring anyone coming on site is aware of your fire safety procedures and what they can and cannot do. A ‘Control of Contractors’ process will help you manage this.|
|Science labs||Some of the equipment used in science lessons poses a risk, such as the naked flame on a Bunsen burner and the use of chemicals. These are best addressed through thorough risk assessments, good housekeeping processes and the use of protective equipment when necessary.|
|Design & Technology||Many of the activities undertaken as part of design and technology courses also poses a potential risk, including woodwork, which requires suitable dust extraction, and the use of soldering irons.|
Fire damage contingency planning
What would happen to pupils were classrooms, playrooms and other school buildings to be damaged by fire? That is just one of the scenarios you may look at when thinking about contingency planning. This type of planning is something we can also help you with and is increasingly being required by insurers.
Talk to us
At Benfield Fire, we understand how important the safety of team members and the young people in your care is. We also recognise that you are working to a budget, so we pride ourselves on providing a high quality, yet cost-effective service that offers you added value.
While you can never eliminate all risk, you can take steps to reduce it and better manage it. Then through proper training, help team members develop the knowledge and confidence they need to be able to act appropriately in an emergency.
To discuss your fire safety needs, please get in touch!