Home

School Fire Safety Checklist 

In schools, fires can pose a serious threat to staff, students, and visitors. In complex and closely connected establishments such as schools, a minor fire can spread in less than thirty seconds. Hence, all responsible personnel and those present must be confident in their fire safety strategy.

A School Fire Safety Checklist (SFSC) addresses common fire prevention and safety issues in schools. The SFSC is not intended to be exhaustive. Instead, it emphasises the most important fire code regulations and processes that schools must follow.

Here is a fire safety checklist for schools that would be useful in the event of a fire. If these processes are followed and preparations are in place then fire safety is easily manageable.

Fire Drills 

  • Learn how to use fire blankets, fire hoses and fire extinguishers. 
  • Instructions and demonstrations for the above are available at the local fire station.
  • Take school fire drills seriously and leave the building the moment the alarm goes off.
  • Make sure that the staff members are aware of the evacuation procedures.
  • Staff must also carry out their fire drill responsibilities if there is an emergency.
  • Sound alarm at the first hint of fire/smoke.
  • Ensure that all people are aware of the nearest fire alarm and extinguisher.
  • Practicing fire drills regularly is a good idea. Schedule and conduct the first fire drill of the school year in the beginning of September. 

Hallways and Doorways

  • Check emergency lights at least once a month to be sure that it’s functioning.
  • Do not slam open hallway doors shut.
  • Keep paper to a minimum on bulletin boards and secure it at all corners. Use less than 20% of the wall area.
  • Use lit exit signs to identify exits and keep them clear.

Classrooms 

  • Check cords and electrical appliances regularly, and unplug appliances when possible.
  • Dispose of garbage daily.
  • Candles or other open flames should not be used in classrooms.
  • Do not use a portable heater as much as possible.
  • Install safety plugs in all unused outlets in kindergarten and pre-school nurseries.
  • Keep flammable materials away from heaters in classrooms.
  • Make sure all doorways are clear.
  • On the school floor plan, clearly identify the escape route and place it next to the classroom door. 

Laboratories

  • Clean up spills as soon as possible.
  • Conduct an annual chemical inventory and discard those that are no longer in use or show symptoms of degradation.
  • Dispose of garbage on a daily and proper basis.
  • Have MSDSs on hand at all times.
  • Make sure all electrical dangers are fixed and that outlets are not overloaded.
  • Never store incompatible chemicals adjacent to each other since they may interact, resulting in a fire or explosion.
  • Order and store the bare minimum of supplies.
  • Store flammable substances appropriately and distribute them from an approved safety container in laboratories.

Office and Storage Areas

  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets and keep wiring away from windows, doorways, and flooring.
  • Keep cleaning agents and polishes in a safe place and handle them carefully (they often give off flammable vapours).
  • Maintain storage areas in an organized and uncluttered manner.

Kitchen Area

  • Clean the lint traps in dryers and the filters in fans, air conditioners, and vents daily.
  • Clean up spills as soon as possible.
  • Hand irons must never be left plugged in. Any electrical socket that will be used to plug in irons must have a pilot light.
  • Keep all cooking equipment, filters, ducts, and hoods grease-free.
  • Keep garbage from accumulating.

Auditorium/Gymnasium

  • Do not use extension cables as a substitute for permanent wiring.
  • Check emergency lighting monthly
  • Make sure all doorways are clear.
  • Make that the exit lights are in functioning order.

Maintenance Rooms

  • Do not store combustible items in electrical rooms.
  • Do not store composites in boilers or furniture rooms.
  • Gas-powered equipment must be kept outside or in a fire-resistant room (one-hour fire separation).
  • Service heating equipment once a year and inspect units regularly to ensure they are in good operating order.

Fire Doors Australia

  • Fire doors are mandatory as per Australian Building Standards. Fire doors protect school buildings and structures by slowing the spread of fire and smoke and preventing fire from spreading to nearby structures. Metal-clad steel doors are also a good idea to look into if you are shopping for other fire stopping doors. 
  • Check fire doors regularly to ensure that they are not jammed and that the hardware is not loose.
  • Make sure that the fire doors are operational by checking regularly.
  • It’s never a good idea to prop or wedge open a fire door. This is particularly dangerous, as fire doors are constructed of heavy-duty, carefully developed materials and are properly sealed to prevent fire spread.

Fire Stopping Products

  • Buildings must be divided into a number of distinct compartments to limit the spread of fire. These fire compartments must be separated from one another by fire-resistant compartment walls/ floors, which prevent fire from spreading from one compartment to the next. 
  • Care should be taken to make sure that the junctions between fire-resistant components and openings between them do not create a weakness.
  • To maintain resistance, joints between fire-separating components such as compartment walls/floors must be “fire-stopped”; and openings for joists, timber beams, rafters, purlins, pipes, conduits, cables, ducts, which pass through any part of the structure, should be fire-stopped.
  • These are some of the fire stopping products can be used to put out a fire:
  1. Mastics that are intumescent.
  2. Mortar made of cement.
  3. Plaster made of gypsum.
  4. Products made of glass fibre, blast furnace slag, ceramics, crushed rock. Vermiculite/perlite mixes based on cement or gypsum.

Schools must use SFSC to identify occupancy risks and non-compliant conditions regularly. This would help the school to achieve a fire-safe environment. In addition, it also prepares the school for its annual fire and life safety inspection.

Once you prepare SFSC and complete all the preparations you must understand the steps that need to be followed if a fire breaks out. 

What to Do if a Fire Breaks Out?

  • Set off the alarm.
  • Do not panic. Reassure the students that the fire plan is in effect and they should remain calm. Judgment and self-assurance are crucial in preventing panic.
  • Carry out any fire drill responsibilities that have been assigned.
  • Keep hallway doors and rooms closed to prevent smoke from spreading.
  • Only use the proper equipment to fight the fire. 
  • Do not fight a fire if it is spreading rapidly or blocking the exit. 
  • Do not use fire equipment if you don’t know how to operate it. 
  • If you do not know how to use the equipment, leave the building immediately.
  • Evacuate students who are in immediate danger.
  • If the fire is fast spreading or blocking the exit, avoid it.

As you can see from the above team approach is required when following SFSC in the event of a fire. All people involved with the school must collaboratively work to guarantee SFC provisions are followed. Hence, school administrators, teachers and other staff members will need to be aware of the SFSC and its processes. This is to ensure that the school environment is as safe as possible from fire and related emergencies.