Fire evacuation drills - legal compliance during Covid-19.

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Having been asked whether schools are expected to carry out fire evacuation drills during Covid-19 and how they are impacted by social distancing, bubbles and other safety measures, we have received advice from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

According to WYFRS, the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order (RRFSO) 2005, under which schools are expected to carry out fire evacuation drills, is still in force and enforceable despite Covid-19.

WYFRS suggest that when you review your fire evacuation procedure you should insert the following words into the fire safety register - "these are unprecedented times and the measure implemented are done so with the best intention”.

It is suggested that the drill is conducted maintaining the class bubbles. A drill using the bubbles would be easier to manage than evacuating the whole school. This could be done on a class to class basis and aimed at new starters as they would not know what the alarm sounds like and what is expected of them.

The main issue, as we see it is if there is a real alarm and how you would manage social distancing outside by your normal assembly areas.

Things to consider:

•             Space permitting, use a larger external area

•             All children will already have face coverings and are expected to use them in common areas. Teachers to instruct children to keep to hand the mask and be ready to put them on (apply the age limit face mask government guideline)

•             Speak to neighbouring buildings' businesses and ask if you can use their outside space (similar to bomb threat and major fire incidents)

•             Upgrade fire alarm to an addressable system therefore narrowing down the search area. Maybe look at a delayed evacuation (risk assessment and building construction permitting).

In conclusion, the evacuation drills despite Covid-19 the WYFRS confirmed that it is a legal requirement and must be fulfilled. Documentary evidence in the fire safety register will be required.

Should you require further advice on this matter please contact  Fire Safety & Condition Manager 01274 43 1756 Senior Fire Safety Officer Work phone 01274 43 1770

For more details, read our fire emergency evacuation drills guidance or visit the fire safety page.



Published: 20/10/2020
Audience: all
Contact: Rebecca Smith

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