An Adaston fire safety worker stood outside the Royal Northern College of Music

Fire Safety In Schools – Everything You Need to Know

Managing fire safety in schools in the UK is essential for ensuring the safety of staff, students and anyone else occupying the building. This sector poses unique challenges, as schools, local authorities, and the Department for Education must work together to ensure schools are safe environments.

One crucial aspect of school safety is the implementation of effective passive fire protection measures. These measures are designed to save lives by preventing the spread of fire, providing safe escape routes and minimising damage to property.

As passive fire protection experts, we’re exploring the legal requirements and best practices for fire safety measures in schools across the UK to help keep you compliant.

Fire Safety in Schools: Regulations and Legal Requirements

Since the Regulatory Reform of Fire Safety Order 2005 (more commonly known as the Fire Safety Order) came into effect, the responsibility for fire safety measures in schools now sits with a designated “responsible person”. This is likely to be the school’s governing body or the head teacher. It’s important to clearly document who the responsible person is, as there are certain duties they must undertake.

These duties fall into three main categories:

  • Passive fire protection
  • Active fire protection
  • Fire safety management

Each category is covered in more detail below.

2 Adaston workers checking the gaps around fire doors in a school

Passive Fire Protection in Schools

Passive fire protection relates to fire safety measures at a structural level. The building is constructed in a way that creates “fire compartments” through the use of fire doors, walls and floors. It also encompasses fire ducts and any heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) systems.

The purpose of fire compartmentation is to keep flames, smoke and toxic gases contained for a set period of time, allowing for safe evacuation and for the emergency services to take over.

While the responsible person has no control over the construction of passive fire protection measures, they do have responsibilities for maintaining them. In particular, fire doors are an area subject to strict regulations.

Fire Doors in Schools

Fire doors are a particular focus of passive fire protection in schools, as they face a lot of wear and tear. With hundreds or thousands of students passing through them every day, it’s easy for fire doors to sustain damage. It’s also not just the door itself, but all components, including the self-closing mechanisms, metalwork and signage.

Regular inspections are legally required, but how regular depends on the size and usage of the building. You can find more specific details in our extensive guide to fire door regulations

Following inspections, the responsible person must also ensure all remedial work is actioned to keep the compartmentation system in good working order. This work should be documented so you have up-to-date records in the event of a fire. You’ll find this is often required for insurance purposes.

Active Fire Protection in Schools

Active fire protection systems are another requirement for controlling the spread of fire and include fire alarms, sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers. They require action in order to suppress a fire, hence their name. For example, a sprinkler system needs to activate in response to a fire and someone manually needs to use a fire extinguisher.

Whereas passive fire systems withstand fire to allow escape, active fire protection systems are designed to control or extinguish fires.

To manage fire safety in schools, you must ensure these systems are correctly installed and regularly tested and maintained. You must also have the correct signage in place, such as fire escape routes and prominent displays for what type of fire extinguisher is where.

Adaston worker inspecting fire safety in a school riser

Fire Safety Management in Schools

Fire safety management refers to the processes and policies you have in place in your school to prevent fires and minimise risk in the event of a fire. This includes regular fire safety training for staff, keeping effective records and having a robust fire evacuation plan in place.

The responsible person must prepare specific systems and ensure all staff are aware of these systems and their roles. For example, they must:

  • Develop an evacuation plan
  • Have appointed fire marshals
  • Arrange regular fire drills
  • Ensure the fire risk assessment is up to date (see below)


Fire Safety Risk Assessments and Fire Surveys in Schools

Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement in schools and it is the duty of the responsible person to have this in place and clearly documented.

A fire risk assessment is a general overview designed to identify fire risks and hazards before outlining measures to reduce these.

In many cases, a fire risk assessment leads to a more in-depth fire survey, which links back to your passive fire protection measures. They may look at your fire compartmentation in general, or focus more specifically on your fire doors. Your fire safety measures in schools are only as strong as the weakest link, so these surveys are essential to identify areas of non-compliance.

The best time to have a fire survey completed is during school holidays when the buildings are empty. The longer summer break is especially popular, so it’s important to schedule your surveys, maintenance and remedial work well in advance.

Building inspectors recommend using a IFC-accredited contractor, such as Adaston, to ensure your building is as safe as possible to protect the lives of those occupying it.

two men shaking hands outside of a college building

How to Stay Compliant With Fire Safety in Schools

Staying compliant with fire regulations in schools focuses on the responsible person ensuring both passive and active fire protection systems are in place and fully functioning. This includes arranging regular inspections, maintenance and any remedial works.

While it may feel overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. Adaston is a third-party accredited passive fire protection company. Whatever stage of the process you’re at, we’re here to help.

From bespoke consultancy advice to surveys and installations, our discreet service offers everything you need to ensure your passive fire protection measures are fully compliant.

Contact the team to discuss your requirements for fire safety in schools. Fill in the contact form below and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

Written by

Nic Bohanna Linkedin

Nic is the Key Client Manager at Adaston with a degree from the prestigious Durham University. With a background in management in the service industry, he now ensures all our passive fire protection services run smoothly. When he’s not at work, you’ll find him pursuing his favourite activities of hill walking, a game of golf, or enjoying a nice cold pint.

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