Approximately 90,000 children a year have their learning disrupted due to damage from fires.
We’ve all heard about the importance of fire safety. However, adopting these fire prevention concepts in schools has not been an easy task.
Thus, there is a legal obligation in place to ensure fire safety in schools. According to it, all schools in Ireland, including primary and secondary, must have an active fire safety plan in place by the end of each calendar year.
Such a plan is designed to help staff and pupils prepare for and respond to a fire emergency.
This article will help you can have an efficient school fire safety plan in place as soon as possible. The article has the following components:
- Aim of the Plan
- Plan components Safety and building procedures Staff roles Education of students Evacuation Drills
- Instruction, training and recording
Children are extremely vulnerable in any disaster. As fire accidents have become very common in schools hence their safety requires careful preparation. Under these conditions, it becomes imperative to make immediate efforts to make schools safer by improving students’ abilities to respond quickly to fires.
The Aim of an efficient fire safety plan for the school is:
- To raise public awareness about fire safety among school children, teachers, and parents.
- To guarantee a safe and orderly evacuation of everyone in the school and avoid any panic or stampede.
- To train the School Fire Safety Management Teams so that they can effectively respond to any emergent situations.
- To enable the school to carry out regular fire evacuation drills.
Safety and building procedures
It considers the school’s physical conditions as well as its fire safety procedures. The purpose is to make it easier to fight a fire by designing and laying out the school properly, followed by a routine inspection. It includes:
Mark the locations of all classrooms and emergency exits. Ensure that all fire exits from
- Mark the locations of all classrooms and emergency exits. Ensure that all fire exits from the school are uncluttered and conveniently accessible at all times.
- All building engineering work must adhere to applicable laws and regulations.
- Everyone on staff should be aware of the location of smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits, and other safety equipment.
- In labs or workshops, combustible materials must not be allowed to accumulate. Other hazardous chemicals should be safely stored.
- Check regularly to ensure that fire warning signs are readable and visible.
- Keep an eye on all heating apparatus, gas pipes, etc., and make sure they are all turned off after school.
Deploying dedicated teams is necessary for the fire response strategy to be effective. Different teams may be formed based on the school’s strength and needs. They should be rigorously trained to perform better in an emergency.
Examples of some of the different teams include:
- Awareness Campaign Team
- Fire Alarm Team
- Evacuation Team
- Search and Rescue Team
- First-aid Team
- Transport Management Team
Education of students
Teaching children about fire safety is essential because it will substantially improve their lives and keep them safe from threats associated with fire. Holding periodic interactive seminars with kids on potentially toxic chemicals is an effective model. Quizzes and situational games centred on ‘what if’ scenarios can also be introduced. Here are some questions you can ask:
- In a fire drill, where is the safest meeting point?
- What would you do if you spotted somebody playing with matches?
- Could you show me two alternative exits from your classroom?
A buddy system can also be created to aid children with special needs. Identify such special children in each classroom and design a buddy system to support these children who may require additional assistance during a fire emergency.
Drills are an incredibly important part of risk mitigation since they educate staff/teachers and students on how to respond to the complications of actual fires. It also helps in assessing what worked well and what went wrong as per the prepared Plan document. It thus sets the stage for revamping the fire safety plan for the school.
Regular fire evacuation drills should be carried out to assure that teachers and other staff understand their roles in fire safety.
Instruction, training, and recording
After the roles of the whole staff are made clear, the next major step towards fire safety is adequate instruction and training. Under this training:
- A qualified professional should conduct the training yearly. They should all be provided a personal copy of the developed written instructions.
- All the newly recruited workers should receive the training, as soon as possible.
- Everyone should receive both practical and academic understanding regarding fire and safety.
Fire safety training thus helps in recalling the fundamentals of fire safety and reduces the risk of fire in schools.
It is also recommended to keep a record of all training sessions, fire drills, previous fire accidents, etc that occurred in the school premises. This fire safety record can help shape the future course of the fire safety plan for the school.
Creating a safety plan for your school isn’t just about making a plan on paper. It’s about contributing to a culture of excellence where safety is taken seriously. Such a plan can help in keeping the environment around children safe and secure.
Safety isn’t just an option, it’s a requirement.