Educational institutions play a pivotal role in shaping the future of society, but they are not immune to potential fire and security hazards. As technology advances and campuses evolve, new risks emerge that demand attention and proactive measures to protect students, staff, and assets.
School and educational buildings contain unique fire hazards, including unmonitored food tech cooking stations, technology and chemistry labs, and unattended electricals. This article examines some of the unique fire and security hazards in education today. It highlights essential regulations and safety considerations that must be observed to maintain a safe learning environment.
The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (RRO) and the BS5839-1 are two essential fire safety regulations that apply to schools in the United Kingdom. Both regulations aim to enhance fire safety measures, minimise fire risks, and protect the safety of students, staff, and visitors.
Staying on top of all fire and security hazards is costly, and not all education establishments can do it. This is one of the main reasons UK distributor ADI Global recommends focusing on maintenance and prevention before there is a system failure is a wise move.
ADI Global’s specialists say, “Putting a fire safety solution in place is paramount when installing wired and wireless systems in educational settings to avoid false alarms and disruption. You can incorporate a conventional or addressable fire panel. Using the appropriate fire detection devices in the relevant areas can significantly reduce the risk of false alarms.
“Depending on specific requirements, heat detectors are ideal for kitchen areas, optical detectors are suitable for classrooms, and multi-sensor detectors are recommended for busy corridors or science labs,” he adds. “These multi-sensor detectors allow panel functions to seamlessly switch between smoke and heat detection, optimising safety measures. Standard fire systems for educational institutions typically consist of panels, sirens, associated power supplies, and manual call points. To protect call points from both intentional and accidental operation, protective covers following BS5839-1:2017 guidelines could help ensure a safe and secure learning environment.”
Designing and installing according to BS5839-1
The BS5839-1 is a British Standard that guides the design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in non-domestic premises, including schools. While it is not a legal requirement, it is considered best practice and often used as a benchmark for ensuring effective fire alarm systems.
The standard defines different categories of fire alarm systems, ranging from simple systems suitable for smaller schools to more complex designs for larger or high-risk premises. It also provides guidance on dividing the school premises into zones and ensuring appropriate fire detection coverage for each area.
Integrated security systems can benefit educational buildings ranging from multi-building primary schools to multi-level universities and colleges, including access control, video surveillance, intrusion detection, fire detection, and management. Using Internet Protocol (IP) technology, such as IP Video, a connected solution can be created by connecting several products.
Schools must provide sufficient anti-panic illumination and evacuation route lighting in case normal lighting fails for pupils, staff, parents, and anyone using the facilities outside of office hours.
Kitchens and other high-risk areas need higher emergency light levels to allow the safe shutdown of equipment. According to British emergency lighting guidelines, each emergency light and internally illuminated exit sign should be tested monthly, along with a full-duration test. This labour-intensive task can be automated with self-contained addressable or central battery emergency lighting systems.
The BS5839-1 includes recommendations for managing false alarms effectively and minimising disruptions to school activities. It emphasises the importance of regular testing and maintenance of fire alarm systems to ensure they remain operational and reliable.
Educational institutions face unique fire and security hazards that require specialised attention to ensure the safety of everyone within their premises. Addressing intrusion and perimeter protection, access control, and CCTV surveillance is fundamental to creating a secure environment conducive to learning.
ADI Global works closely with resellers and installers, sharing its many years of expertise in ensuring that educational institutions stay safe and protected on all fronts.
By adhering to relevant regulations and implementing comprehensive safety measures, educational institutions can safeguard their community, fostering trust, safety, and focus on education.