School environmentTypically, schools tend to be large buildings (even some of the smaller primary schools in rural Wales) with a lot of people in and out of the individual rooms and the building throughout the day.  As the bulk of these are children along with teachers, support staff and even visitors, it is important to keep everyone safe at all times and that includes from risk of fire. 

Of particular importance is to ensure the right types and numbers of extinguishers are installed in the most appropriate locations and that staff undergo training in how to use them.  This training is vital in a busy environment like a school to prevent harm or injury to people and property. 

All fire extinguishers must also be serviced regularly to ensure they are in good working order.  The British Standard BS5306-3:2009 states that fire extinguishers should be serviced annually by a ‘competent person’. Just imagine the scenario if a member of your school, trained in the use of fire extinguishers, finds in the case of an emergency that the equipment didn’t work properly!!!

Types of Fire Extinguishers in Schools

There are many different types of fire extinguishers depending on the ‘class’ of fire and those most likely to occur in a school are listed below:

  • Class ‘A’ fire extinguishers are generally deemed the most appropriate around a school building as these are effective against fires caused by paper, wood, textiles and plastics.  These should be located in classrooms and corridors according the size of the building and number of storeys (for the school to operate a local government fire safety officer will have carried out a risk assessment and advised on the number and location of these extinguishers).
  • Class ‘B’ fire extinguishers are effective against flammable liquid fires including cooking liquids, oil, gasoline, kerosene, or paint. Most school kitchens will have a cooker, possibly a deep fat fryer, handheld appliances such as whisks and food processors and microwaves. Again the number of extinguishers and their location will depend on the size of the kitchen and the number of appliances which could ultimately be deemed a fire risk.  It’s also a good idea to keep a fire blanket in your school kitchen which can be used over pan fires or if someone’s clothing caught on fire.   In secondary schools, these extinguishers should also be installed any science labs which, due to the use of chemicals and equipment such a Bunsen burners, are deemed extremely high risk.
  • Class ‘C’ fire extinguishers should also be installed in science labs as these are used to put out fires causes by flammable gases like propane, butane and methane for example
  • Extinguishers for electrical equipment should will also be required in both a school kitchen and a science lab (mixed environments) as well as in an IT suite or any other room which contains a high number of PC’s or other electrical equipment.

Protecting Your Fire Equipment

Vandalism of fire extinguishers in schools is surprisingly common. It’s most likely to occur to equipment in common areas like corridors or any which may be situated outdoors.  To combat vandalism you should ensure that the school’s fire extinguishers are covered or stored in lockable cabinets.

You could also consider keeping a bank of spare extinguishers (stored away safely of course) which could be used to replace any damaged or vandalised equipment. But don’t forget that these extinguishers should also be serviced annually to ensure they are still in proper working order.

It’s also advisable that the person who is responsible for fire safety in the school (a ‘responsible person’ will have been identified at the point of risk assessment) carries out a visual check of all extinguishers at least once a month in line with British Standards.

Hartson Fire

At Hartson Fire, we work with a number of schools across South Wales providing a range of extinguishers as well as staff training and annual servicing.  We also understand that servicing of equipment is not ideal in a busy school environment and so we recommend carrying out these checks during the school holiday to avoid disruption.

To find out how we can help to keep your school safe, call us today on the number below: