Keystone's guide to fire risk assessments
Fire risk assessments have been a legal requirement since 2005 when the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order was passed. Every non-domestic premises must have a "responsible person" carry out a fire risk assessment and should record any significant findings. The "responsible person" should have either total control or a degree of control over the building.
The two main factors to consider when conducting a fire risk assessment are the likelihood of a fire occurring and the consequences if a fire were to happen. It's important to leave enough time to prepare for and carry out the risk assessment. The risk assessment should cover the whole school (including staff areas and outdoors) in a thorough and systematic way. It might be beneficial to split the risk assessment into different classrooms, offices, stairs, corridors etc. In order to get the fullest picture possible of hazards, don't forget to interview your staff - particularly caretakers and other custodians of the school.
The five steps of fire risk assessment
- Identify hazards
These hazards could be possible sources of ignition (heaters, electrical equipment, lights and naked flames), sources of oxygen and sources of fuel (wood, paper, plastic, furniture etc).
- Identify people at risk
In most schools, this will consist of the pupils and staff. Children under the age of 5, ESL pupils and SEND pupils are particularly vulnerable so special consideration should be made for them. You should also be aware of parents during school drop-off and pick-up times who may be unfamiliar with the fire procedures.
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
How would you reduce fire hazards and remove the risk to people? The chances of a fire starting in a school are quite low and most either start accidentally, by omission (e.g. when equipment is not maintained) or deliberately. You should evaluate where fires could occur and think critically about what you can do to mitigate this risk as much as possible. This could be reducing or removing sources of fuel or setting up a maintenance plan for electrical appliances.
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
The next step is to record your significant findings which should include:
- The hazards you have identified
- The actions you have taken to reduce a fire occurring
- The people at risk, especially those at most risk
- The actions you have taken to reduce the risk of a fire spreading
- Your emergency plan
- How you will train people on your emergency plan
You should then give this information to your staff and members of your trust central management team. Along with members of your trusts senior team, you should look at providing your staff with adequate fire safety training.
- Review the plan
You should make note of any actions you make to implement the fire risk assessment and how you are working to control the risk of fire. This could be changes to buildings, records of testing or introducing new equipment.
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