Schools and early years opening during COVID 19 advice

If you are involved in plans to open up schools and early years provisions then we would like to offer you some fire safety help and support.

This will be a busy and difficult time for anyone establishing plans and getting processes in place around how you will operate so we’d like to help ease the process by reminding you of your fire safety obligations, which must be yaken into account under fire safety legislation - Fire Safety Order

Testing

It’s important to carry out tests on your fire preventative/protective measures such as fire alarms, emergency lighting, fire doors etc before opening to others, particularly if your premises have been un-occupied since the start of the

Coronavirus outbreak and lockdown was enforced.

All tests need to be logged in your fire maintenance records.

Fire safety responsibility

When making changes due to COVID-19 have you considered your responsibilities for fire safety?

Schools are required to have a fire risk assessment in place which should that list hazards and the response the school will take to ensure safety for staff and pupils. 

It is also important to have a business continuity plan in place to be prepared for changes that may happen such as COVID-19.

Business continuity plan

If you’ve not updated your business continuity plan then now is a good time to do this. We have a free 10-minute business continuity exercise to help with this: Business continuity

Fire risk assessment

You may have made changes in relation to how you will operate your school or early year’s provision from here; this may include the layout of the building. These changes will need reflecting in your fire risk assessment so we have produces templates and tools to help with this also: Free templates and tools

Here are a couple of questions to consider before opening your premises:

  • •Are additional areas of the school/setting being used as a classroom?

- If so, is there a sufficient means of raising the alarm? This will provide early warning of fire to others. Particularly where lone working is taking place.

- Is there appropriate signage in place (fire instruction notice, fire exit signs)?

  • You should have fire marshals/wardens in place on each day. Have you considered if:

- They are still available to do this role?

- Are allocated and trained staff still available to assist with any personal emergency evacuation plans that are in place?

  • Are supply/agency staff aware of the fire procedures in place?

  • Is there any storage, furniture or group work now blocking escape routes? Escape routes need to be clear at all times to aid a safe evacuation and away from additional hazards and risks.

  • Do staff require any additional fire training so they are aware of any changes in place?

Fire doors

A question we are currently being asked is: “Can I prop fire doors open during COVID 19, to prevent people touching them or for additional ventilation?”

No, fire doors are an important fire safety measure, keep fire doors closed and follow government advice on hand washing and cleansing hard surfaces.

You can check that your fire doors don’t have any defects by using the five-step fire door check here:  Fire doors

Fire Safety Guides

Finally have a look at this guide, which will assist you with fire safety within your premises and keep everyone inside safe should a fire start: Educational premises