Learning from Fire Safety mistakes in education

Moving away from home to begin your new university life is a new and exciting adventure, but the hazards and habits that go hand in hand with first time living on your own can have a shed load of consequences, with fire being at the forefront.

Cigarettes, candles, partying and hazardous materials are all popular in a student-fueled lifestyle, but sadly, according to Plumis, each year, around 350 18-24 year olds are injured in accidental fires. Over half of these deaths occur in the kitchen whilst cooking, handling hot substances or through misuse of electrical equipment.

Any fire in a commercial or domestic setting can be devastating. So, as a business operating in the education sector, implementing sufficient Fire Safety practices is paramount to the ongoing safety compliance of your organisation, and could help prevent injury, costs and serious consequences to your business.

Last month, property business, Nottingham Student Lettings at Castle Gate was fined for Fire Safety breaches. Students put their full trust into education providers and Landlords to ensure that fires are unlikely to break out, and in the event of such happening, that they are controlled effectively and efficiently.

The property business and director, Mr Singh have been fined £150,000 with costs of £40,000 after failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service. Having put 23 students’ lives at risk, he was also sentenced to three months in prison, as well as being ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

An inadequate fire risk assessment, means of escape, fire detection, emergency lighting and training were just some of the findings discovered during the inquest.

Failing to comply with Fire Safety regulations is more common than you think. Last year, a Bristol Landlord was handed a jail sentence following several Fire Safety failings and two housing developers in Manchester were fined over £14,000 for ‘death trap’ student accommodation block.  St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Buckinghamshire was also fined £8,000 by Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority for breaking Fire Safety regulations, including failure to take general safety measures, failure to assign fire wardens and failure to adequately implement the findings of a fire risk assessment.

To help you avoid similar life-changing consequences, we’ve compiled a selection of general Fire Safety pointers to enable you to have your processes in place.

  • Carry out regular Fire Risk Assessments on the common areas of the premises to identify those at risk, pinpoint the hazards, evaluate the risk, keep due diligence records and review monthly
  • Install fire alarms and emergency lighting in communal areas so people can get out of the building quickly
  • Designate one or more competent person(s) to aid in undertaking preventive and protective measures. You can read up on what defines a competent person in our blog What makes a Competent Person?
  • Clearly signpost the nearest exits and Fire Safety instructions to enable a quick evacuation in the event of an emergency
  • Conduct regular fire drills so you can be sure you’ve got all of the correct procedures in place. Drills are imperative in ensuring safety which we discuss in our blog How to conduct the perfect fire drill
  • Ensure furniture and furnishings meet the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, including beds, curtains and carpets
  • Never prop fire doors open. It is actually illegal to wedge open a fire door Fire doors: Breaking the rules
  • Automatic fire sprinkler systems are a great way to effectively and efficiently protect tenants and buildings
  • Fire extinguishers must be fixed in a permanent position – either wall mounted or fixed to a stand. Smart-Exx fire extinguishers are easy-to-use, non-toxic, light, biodegradable, good value for money – and therefore perfect for student accommodation and schools and colleges

We have already helped Manchester Metropolitan University, Leeds University Union, Interserve, Mill Hill School and The University of Manchester with their Fire Safety processes, so why not join them?

We are offering education providers a FREE Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety review. To find out more visit Review your safety processes today.

Shield Safety produces tailored Fire Safety Management Systems with specific safety procedures, provides advice through our unique Helpline Service and has experienced Fire Safety Practitioners who can assist you further.

For more information about how we can help keep your business and customers safe, visit our homepage or call us today on 020 3740 3744.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.

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