Fire safety refers to precautions taken to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a fire that could end up in death, injury, and property damage. Fire safety measures must be used as early as the construction of a school. Assessments and inspections which have been done in schools suggest that non-teaching and accommodation areas contain the highest fire risk/hazard. Non-teaching areas include kitchens, offices, prep-rooms, storage areas and electrical switch rooms.
Schools have to adhere to a lot of school safety rules and fire safety is actually the most important requirements of schools. Fire safety equipment as also drills and procedures for fire safety methods must be completed in school facilities so that every person knows the way to respond in a calm and proper manner in case of an emergency fire outbreak.
While a school might have substantial fire sprinkler systems along with other safety sensors and devices installed. Fire drills must be held and fire safety and educational programs for all students, teachers and other staff members are also very important so they know what to do in case of fire in a school.
Some areas in school have a higher than ordinary fire risk and particular consideration and precautions ought to be taken in such areas. For instance, keeping all storage areas clean, waste storage areas and similar places where flammable materials can accumulate.
- Maintaining proper fire exits and exit signage (e.g. exit signs that can function in a power failure)
- Placing and maintaining fire extinguishers in easily accessible places.
- Proper storing/using of hazardous materials that may be needed inside the building or the schools for storage or operational requirements.
- Prohibiting flammable materials in certain areas of the facility.
- Maintaining fire alarm systems for detection and warning of fire.
- Obtaining and maintaining a complete inventory of fire safety equipment.
- Maintaining a high level of training and awareness of students (pupils), staff and other users of the school building.
- Conduct fire drills at regular intervals throughout the year. According to research, most common fire hazards in schools are due to arson, overloaded electrical systems, fuel store areas with high oxygen concentration or insufficient protection, materials that produce toxic fumes when heated. There are objects that block fire exits, incorrectly installed wiring, misuse of electrical appliances, and lit candles left unattended.
Students need to be trained by firefighters on how to use some of the firefighting equipment like fire extinguishers, taking notice of any electricals left unattended and candles not blown out. School authorities should make sure that electrical wiring is regularly inspected on the premises. Also, they should practice fire safety among the users of the school facility e.g, unplug electrical appliances when not in use and replace damaged or old electrical cords.
- Install detection systems such as heat detectors, smoke detectors, alarm systems and break glass pint, among others.
- Put in place a Fire Action Emergency Plan so that students and teachers know what to do in case a fire breaks out and carry out periodic or regular fire drills or evacuation drill.
- Have fire safety signage in any installation e.g. showing the direction of the exits and location of extinguishers.
- Recognise fire brigade department as a partner in fire safety promotion.
- When you get out of a burning dormitory or building don’t run back in to save anything, your life is more precious than property. Get out and stay out!
If you practice the above precautions, fewer fire outbreaks can be recorded. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that fire prevention and safety in school is adhered to.
There are many fire safety service providers which can help schools, offices and other commercial establishments both with the necessary equipment for fire protection and also carry out training including drills and safety procedures.