Protect educational facilities: ensure fire safety is on the curriculum

By Garry Kwok, National Manager, Technical Services Group

Wormald fire protection upgrade for Deakin UniversityAll Australian schools have a duty of care to students so principals and teachers must take all reasonable steps to reduce risks and provide suitable and safe premises.

Educational facilities can have the same hazards as any other workplace but they also have a range of risks inherently associated with their presence in the community. Schools and universities are often the target of accidental fires or arson. Also, many educational facilities incorporate laboratories or workshops where pupils may be exposed to fire hazards, dangerous substances and machinery.

When planning for fire protection, education facility managers should first conduct a fire safety audit of their premises. This will highlight potential fire risks and help to determine the fire protection solution required. Each facility will be different but some common hazards include electrical equipment, kitchen or heating appliances, chemicals in student laboratories, flammable liquids and combustible waste material.

It’s a good idea to consult a fire protection specialist to ensure all hazards are identified and the most appropriate fire protection solution is installed, in accordance to relevant standards and legislation.

While fire protection solutions will vary from facility to facility, almost all educational facilities will have basic fire extinguishers or fire hose reels, passive fire solutions such as fire doors. Some may also have more advanced fire detection and suppression systems.

It is important that appropriate signage is provided for all hazards, fire protection equipment and emergency exits in the facility. Fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment should be clearly marked and emergency exits signs should be visible so that in the event of an evacuation, all building occupants, including younger pupils, can be directed to escape quickly.

A fire protection specialist will be able to identify the most appropriate solution and signage for your facility.

When it comes to fire protection, a high level of reliability is essential and fire protection systems and equipment should always perform to the standard to which they were originally designed and installed. Regular testing can validate the functionality of the systems and equipment and help uncover any faults or issues that may cause malfunction. Ensure your fire protection specialist has developed a maintenance schedule for your facility.

It’s also important that everyone at a school or university knows how to respond to a fire emergency and how to use the fire equipment onsite. In schools, students should be taught the importance of fire safety and a fire escape plan should be practiced regularly.

If you’d like more information on protecting educational facilities from fire, or on Wormald’s products or services, contact us on 133 166 or visit the Wormald website.

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