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When it comes to successfully operating a school, there’s a lot more that goes into it than providing quality education to your students.
You need to keep in mind the safety and security of the students, teachers, staff members, visitors, and the property itself, and provide a safe environment for all on the premises.
Parents put their trust in the school’s management and expect them to be equipped to handle any emergency to protect their children.
Out of all the key systems and equipment that help keep a school safe and secure, a properly functioning fire alarm system is one of the most important.
Read on to find out what causes fires in schools, how a fire alarm system can help minimise the risk, how to choose the best one for your school, and much more:
According to the most recent fire statistics, there have been around 333 fires in educational premises in the UK in the years 2020/21. Not only can they be a serious safety threat to everyone on campus but also have serious financial consequences.
In order to understand how to minimise this threat, you need to first determine what causes it in the first place. Here are some of the most common causes of fires in schools:
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 outlines the general fire precautions that must be implemented in all workplaces in the UK and it applies to all educational institutions including schools and universities.
A key part of these regulations is the appointment of a “responsible person”, also known as a Fire Safety Officer, who is either an individual or a group of people responsible for fire safety on the premises.
This can be anyone who has control of the school premises such as the headteachers or maintenance engineers. In case of more than one responsible person, they must all work together in consensus towards improving fire safety in the school.
The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment, the findings of which will help form the basis of the school’s fire safety strategy.
A key part of their responsibility includes appointing and training fire wardens to help them successfully execute said fire safety strategy.
A fire risk assessment will help:
While all the necessary precautions must be taken to minimise the risk of fires in schools, in the event that a fire does happen, you must be equipped with a fire alarm system to quickly detect the threat and alert everyone inside the school building.
Commercial fire alarm systems are best suited for schools and other educational institutions. They are made up of a few integral components such as the control panel, initiating device, notification device, power supply, and display panels.
Some systems are even connected to a professional monitoring service that links the system with an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) working round the clock to monitor the system and notify the relevant authorities in case of an emergency.
Although a fire alarm system doesn’t prevent fires from erupting, they certainly help prevent them from spreading.
A properly functioning fire alarm system will detect the earliest signs of a fire and provide ample time for everyone to evacuate the school safely.
Immediate communication with the authorities via fire alarm monitoring services will also allow them to respond faster to the situation and contain the fire before it causes any damage.
In addition to being compliant with the law, fire alarm systems provide an added sense of security and trust knowing that the school is prepared for emergencies.
There are several different types of fire alarms in schools based on how they work, the area they cover, how accurate they are, and how they are installed:
You can have either automatic or manual fire alarm systems installed in your school. An automatic fire alarm system detects heat or smoke on the premises and sends an audio-visual alert throughout the building to alert all the occupants of the danger.
Manual fire alarms also alert the occupants of the danger but have to be triggered manually by a human via a manual pull station. They require a human to manually pull the lever to send an alert when they see or smell a fire.
Automatic fire alarms are much more reliable as they use various sensors to detect the presence of a fire and automatically trigger the alarm. On the other hand, since manual systems rely on human intervention, their reliability depends mainly on how well the individual has been trained to act in an emergency.
Conventional fire alarm systems are best suited for smaller school buildings where they may be more cost-effective to install.
The sensors and devices are individually wired to the control panel and send a signal to the system to set off the alarm when they detect signs of a fire, smoke, or heat.
An addressable fire alarm system, on the other hand, is better suited to medium to large-sized school buildings. They are made up of a series of fire detectors and sensors that are all wired in loop circuits, making them incredibly efficient for larger installations.
Each detector/sensor on the system can be allocated a unique address, allowing for much faster identification of the activations and quicker response time to the exact location of the fire.
The main difference between a wired and wireless fire alarm system is that the former is hardwired and needs to be physically connected to the control panel using cables. The latter is battery-powered and communicates with the control panel via radio technology.
Since many school buildings in the UK date from the Victorian era to the 60s, hardwiring may not be the best option and may present quite a few challenges. The presence of wires may also affect the aesthetics of the building. For this reason, a wireless fire alarm system might be the better option.
In addition to the types of fire alarms explained above, they can be categorised into different systems as defined by the British Standard 5839:
Category L fire alarm systems are intended to protect life and can be further categorised into L1, L2, L3, L4, and L5.
Category L1 provides the earliest possible warning and maximum coverage, whereas category L5 is designed to satisfy a particular fire safety objective.
Category P fire alarm systems are designed to protect property and can be further categorised into P1 and P2 systems.
Category P1 are systems installed throughout the property with the purpose to provide the earliest warning signs of a fire. Category P2 are systems installed in specific high-risk areas of the building for early fire detection.
When choosing the best fire alarm system for your school, you need to keep a few things into consideration such as:
Identifying the various threats and fire risks within the school and determining how the occupants should be alerted are the first steps in choosing the right fire alarm system.
You need to keep in mind that a fire alarm system will only detect the threat and prompt the occupants to evacuate; it won’t mitigate the risk. You may need additional fire safety measures such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers.
The size and layout of the school are important considerations as they will help you decide whether to opt for a conventional or addressable fire alarm system.
If the school is constructed over a smaller area, you may be able to work with a conventional system. If the school is bigger and multi-storey, an addressable fire alarm system would be much better suited.
Whether or not you need professional fire alarm monitoring services will depend on the level of fire risk that you are facing, the size of the school, and where it is located.
With a monitored fire alarm system, all the alerts are sent to an alarm receiving centre, manned by professionals trained to deal with such situations, and the fire and rescue services are dispatched depending on the situation.
If you are unsure about the best type of fire alarm system for your school, you may consult with a professional who has the required knowledge and expertise to guide you on the matter. Contact us here to speak to our fire alarm system specialists!
There are several preventative measures that you can take to minimise the risk of fires and prevent them from breaking out at all:
While these key points are extremely helpful in minimising fire risk in schools, you must also make sure to:
It is important to install a fire alarm system on your school campus, but that isn’t where your responsibility ends. You also need to make sure that it is fit for the job and can be relied on for the earliest fire detection.
Inspections must be carried out by the users of the system, aka the responsible person, every week or month. Detailed checks carried out by a trained engineer must be done a minimum of twice in one year.
Fires are scary and are usually followed by chaos and confusion since most people do not know what to do and how to reach to safety. The main reason for this is the absence of proper fire safety training and evacuation plans.
To avoid from happening, and to make sure everyone on the premises is safe, all students, teachers, and staff members must be properly trained and made aware of the standard procedures to follow in the event of a fire.
This can be achieved by conducting regular fire drills and going through the evacuation routes at least once every academic term so that everyone is prepared in case of an emergency.
In addition to installing and maintaining fire alarm systems in schools, a few other essential safety features include fire extinguishers, fire doors, fire signage, and emergency lighting.
Fire extinguishers help put out fires and stop them from spreading, while the other three help with safe evacuation.
An emergency lighting system is a type of lighting system used to provide illumination in an emergency such as a fire, especially if the power goes out.
Sudden and complete darkness does not only create panic but can also be extremely dangerous and life-threatening in certain situations.
The main purpose of these lights is to serve as a backup light source when the primary one fails and prevent the building from being left in complete darkness.
If the fire is small and can be controlled with a fire extinguisher, a designated individual must do so to prevent it from spreading.
If it is big and out of control, you must never tackle it on your own and instantly call the Fire and Rescue services. If you have a monitored fire alarm system, they should automatically be alerted. If not, your fire safety plan should outline who is responsible for calling the authorities in the event of a fire.
Next, you must ensure that all the plans regarding the safe evacuation of all the students, staff, and visitors are in place and that everyone has safely evacuated the building.
All the entrance points must be clearly marked so that when the fire brigade arrives, they know where to go and they have all the required information to put out the fire safely and effectively.
Our experts have been working in the industry for over 40 years and can provide you with a comprehensive solution for your school’s fire safety needs which includes:
The proper installation of a fire alarm system is just as important as the quality of the system itself and is a complex task requiring expertise in the field.
We can survey your property and determine the best kind of system suitable for your needs and one that complies with the current standards and regulations.
We can then plan and install your system to high standards using only the best quality equipment from our trusted suppliers.
We also offer after-sales care and an ongoing maintenance package after the installation to ensure your fire alarm works in optimal condition providing you with a system you can depend and rely on.
Commercial fire alarms must follow strict regulations and guidelines to keep them in good working order and the best way to stay compliant is to have them serviced regularly.
We have a vast understanding of the regulations in force and can provide you with a high level of service to keep your system healthy and working all the time.
According to the law, a fire alarm system must be maintained properly and depending on certain factors, it can be up to three times per year.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 9799 to speak with our representatives right away!
Or would like us to provide a survey and quote then please contact us and we will be happy to help.Call us on 0800 612 3001