Assistant Editor , SHP

July 25, 2022

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What can be done to better fire safety in schools?

On Wednesday 29 June, the FIA held an exclusive seminar at Informa’s (the company behind Safety & Health Expo and FIREX International) Blackfriars HQ. Entitled FIA Seminar: Fire Safety in Schools, attendees heard from various speakers across the sector, as they discussed the methods in which schools can be protected in the best way possible, and also to deter false representation of fire incidents. IFSEC Global, SHP’s sister title, reports on a snippet of the event.

Ian Moore, CEO at FIA explained that there have been recent changes in fire safety due to the Grenfell fire, where 72 people died in the blaze.

One in 20 schools, according to the FIA, experience fire and of this, nearly 60% are started deliberately. Importance was therefore stressed on fire alarms in schools having to deter pupils from causing a false alarm who think it may be “fun” to do so, with Moore noting that additional equipment can deter such instances by incorporating a cover to open which makes a shrill noise when lifted.

Also discussed was the Building Bulletin 100 (BB100) – a guide to help nurseries, primary and secondary schools design their buildings with fire safety in mind. Recent insurance inspections of over 1000 schools have found that two thirds were rated as ‘poor’ for fire protection measures.

Fireco’s Pete Davies spoke about the use of wireless technology to hold fire doors open, and release when a fire is detected. On inspection, “64% of buildings had fire doors wedged open” in normal day-to-day use instead of being closed, which can, he said, come down to “poor understanding” of the use of fire doors.

Other applications were also discussed for releasing fire doors during a fire alarm situation – doors that close automatically once hearing the fire alarm sound – or radio frequency which waits for a fire signal to be transmitted to its receivers in the event of a fire.

Neil Eves from Hochiki focused on the importance of educating building visitors and school professionals on the safety precautions and procedures in the event of a fire. In addition, he highlighted that users should take into consideration the proper installation of alarms, along with professional maintenance of the fire system being used in their schools.

The afternoon session commenced with Darren Saunders from Nittan highlighting that false alarms are a big issue for schools and that they can be costly. Darren explained how false alarms can be reduced using multi sensors and dual optic technology.

Ian Watts from Llumarlite followed, presenting on ‘Emergency Lighting’ and highlighting the need for the correct documentation.

The seminar event concluded with a presentation on the ‘Failure of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Small E-Vehicles. The Risks, Hazards and Ways to Manage Them’ from Newcastle University’s Dr Wojciech Mrozik, highlighting just how dangerous Lithium-Ion batteries can be when used incorrectly.

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