Keep your school safe from fire

Here you will find information about how to keep schools, and the people who attend and work at schools, safe from fire.

The cost of a fire in a school is significant. While financial costs may be great, the cost to the community can be even greater. It is for this reason that Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) works with schools to provide advice and guidance on how to protect staff and students from fire.

It’s important that schools:
  • know how to keep themselves safe from fire
  • are informed about and comply with fire safety legislation
  • complete a fire risk assessment

All schools are different, therefore each school must develop its own procedures for managing fire safety. When developing this, schools should give full consideration to all of the key issues presented on this page.
 

Please click here to view our Fire Safety Privacy Notice.
 

Contact us

NFRS are available to provide further advice and assistance. 

Please call us on 01670 621 140, or email us on firesafety1@northumberland.gov.uk.

If you would like to find out more information about the fire warden and fire safety training which the fire service can provide, please click here to visit our training courses page.

You can also complete our online enquiry form below:
For more information about how fire legislation applies to school premises, please see below:

For more information about the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and how this applies to you, please click here to visit our ‘keep your business safe’ page.

 

Notices

Each fire alarm point needs to be clearly indicated, followed by the appropriate instructions. Please click here for an example of a fire notice.

A notice should be displayed adjacent to the telephone, which gives clear instructions for calling the fire service. Please click here for an example of telephone instructions.

Instructions for staff should also be displayed clearly, for example in a staff room, indicating their actions and responsibilities in an emergency. Please click here for an example of instructions for staff.
During the first week of term, all new entrants should be guided around the primary escape routes of the school, as well as receiving instruction on the school fire evacuation routine.

All staff members should receive instruction and training in the event of any emergency, and should also receive a personal, written copy of any verbal instructions every year.

A record of training, instruction, and fire drills should be entered into the log book and will include the:
  • date of instruction, or the date of the fire drill
  • duration of the evacuation
  • name of the person giving instruction
  • names of people receiving instruction
  • nature of instruction or fire drill

If the primary escape route is not available, an alternate route should also be planned. Each drill should be started by a predetermined signal, and the whole premises checked for a full evacuation.

A specific person should be responsible for organising staff training, and they should nominate another person to coordinate the actions of staff in the event of a fire.

PLEASE NOTE: Fire evacuation drills should be held at least once per term, preferably at the beginning of each term.
If your school has more than one building, it is not necessary for the fire alarm systems to be linked. 

In the event of an alarm in one building, contact can be made to other buildings either by telephone, or a designated person. Once contact has been made, then all buildings can be evacuated.

Management may decide to operate ‘floor warden’ schemes after evacuation. This involves various staff members searching each floor to double-check that it is clear. If this procedure is in place, it is not necessary to evacuate all buildings.
 
Fire drills ensure that, in the event of a fire:
  • people who may be in danger act in rationally, and in a calm and orderly manner
  • those with designated responsibilities carry out their tasks to ensure the safety of all concerned
  • the escape routes are used in accordance with a predetermined and practiced plan
  • evacuation of the building is achieved in an efficient manner

Your fire drill routine should be based on the following critical events:

 

Alarm operation

  • Anyone who discovers fire must, without any hesitation, sound the nearest alarm.

 

Calling the fire and rescue service

  • All fires, whether suspected or small, should be reported to the fire service immediately. 
  • This could be a responsibility designated to the school secretary, as a telephone is available in that location.

 

Evacuation

  • Upon hearing the alarm, pupils must be instructed to leave the building in single-file, in a calm and orderly fashion.
  • Teachers must indicate the exit route, and everybody must be directed to the assembly point. 
  • Specific arrangements (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans PEEP’s) must be made to ensure pupils with physical or mental disabilities are assisted. 
  • Refuge areas should be designated. These areas should provide individuals with a place of relative safety before being assisted to a final exit point.
  • Anyone not in class when the fire alarm sounds must go immediately to the assembly point.
  • No one is allowed to re-enter the building until told by the fire service or, in the case of a drill, the person in charge.

PLEASE NOTE: Running and using lifts is not permitted in an evacuation.

 

Assembly

  • The assembly point must be outside of school premises, clearly marked, and easily identified by anyone expected to be in the school.
  • It needs to be far enough away that it protects staff and pupils from heat and smoke.
  • It also needs to be in a position that is safe for staff and pupils when emergency vehicles arrive.

 


Roll call

  • One person should be nominated to have overall responsibility in the event of an evacuation.
  • The responsible person must ensure a roll call is carried out as soon as classes have reached the assembly point.
  • The roll call is to ascertain that nobody remains in the premises, including any visitors or contractors.
  • The count at the assembly point must be checked with the attendance registers and visitor book to verify that everyone is out of the building.

 

Meeting the service

  • The responsible person for roll call must identify themselves to the fire service upon their arrival.

The fire service will need to ask:
  • Is everyone accounted for?
  • If anyone is missing, if so how many? What is their usual location? Where were they last seen?
  • Where is the fire? What is on fire?
  • Are there hazardous substances involved in the fire, or stored inside?