So you've finally got round to updating your school's fire risk assessment, you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Thank goodness that's over! But... your responsibility and work don't stop there. You have to share the findings. If you don't share the updated assessment in the required manner, you may as well have not bothered!
For the purpose of this post, I'm going to assume you've already recorded your fire risk assessment and planned emergency procedures. These are just two of the five Governments requirements, which are record, plan, inform, instruct, and train. I'm going to take you through the inform, instruct, and train obligations.
The information in this post comes from the government guide to Fire Safety Risk Assessments on Educational Premises, pages 33 - 38, and 106 - 113.
Remember, this post isn't intended to replace this document but can be used in conjunction with it. If the Government document updates and there are discrepancies between this post and the Government advice, always go with the Government document!
Blake Fire & Security Systems cannot be held responsible for any persons using this guide.
So what's next?
You need to provide relevant information about your updated Fire Risk Assessment to the following people:
You will need to give staff, pupils, visitors and contractors relevant instructions. All employees should receive enough information and training (I'll explain this later in this post) about the risks in the premises. Some, such as Fire Marshals, will need more thorough training.
You should ensure that all staff (including part time and temporary), pupils, students, visitors
and contractors are told about the emergency plan and are shown the escape routes.
The information and instruction you give, based on your emergency plan, must include:
For example, if you're in a large educational establishment with many buildings, everyone within the site needs to know how to use internal emergency telephones.
The information you give out, see above, must be easy to understand.
This means specific to the recipient - whether they're hard of hearing, visually impaired or have learning difficulties.
It's your responsibility to make the information easily understood.
For schools with EAL (English as an Additional Language) children, this will need to be addressed appropriately.
You must provide documents that include the fire-protection arrangements, including the designated escape routes, the location and operation of the fire-warning system and any other fire-safety equipment provided, such as fire extinguishers. Fire action notices can complement this information and, where used, should be posted in prominent locations.
You should also ensure that written instructions are given to people who have been nominated to carry out a designated safety task.
You MUST provide adequate fire safety training for your staff. This means it should be based on the particular features of your premises and should:
For pupils/students you'll need to involve them in some aspects of the fire safety training, such as fire drills.
It's not actually as daunting as it sounds, and general training can often be covered within a staff meeting. Just remember to invite the cleaners!
For a comprehensive list of what your fire safety needs to include, please review part one, step 4 and part 2 section 7.4 of the Government's fire safety risk assessment document.
The Responsible Person may be able to delegate some duties, but the responsibility remains yours by law.
Having said that, employees also have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and that of other people who may be affected by their activities.
This includes the need for them to inform their employer of any activity that they consider would present a serious and immediate danger to their own safety and that of others. So make sure they know!
It's easy to get overwhelmed with school fire safety risk assessments, so if you're struggling, always consult a professional! We supply accredited fire security systems to schools and our fire security experts, Rory Foster (Commercial Fire Alarms) and Simon Blake (Emergency Lighting) are always willing to provide a professional school security survey without charge to assess your fire safety.
Disseminating your updated Fire Risk Assessment to the appropriate people is an integral part of your responsibility to maintain the safety of the school and its users.
Sadly, there are further pitfalls...
But don't worry, we've gathered some of the key points in an easy to read guide that will make it easier for you to comply with the regulations.
You can download it in a jiffy, click below.