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Fire risk management and business continuity planning in education institutions

Each year in the United Kingdom there are between 1400 and 1800 fires in schools, with a direct cost estimated to be in excess of £80 million. This is equal to an equivalent cost of building more than 80 new primary schools or employing more than 2,500 teachers. School fires nationally have increased by 137% over a ten-year period and the South-East/London region bears the highest cost in terms of school fire losses.

The hidden effects can include disruption to education, breaking up of the school to enable the education process to continue, stress and additional work on all staff and disruption of extra curricular activities, as well as a far wider heartache, stress and worry on the community. Research by Zurich municipal indicates that 90% of fires in schools are arson, many of which start during business hours.

Business continuity

Surrey County Council is committed to business continuity management. The Emergency Planning Team has produced a guide on how to produce business continuity plan.

What law applies?

Health and Safety law applies to all schools. Surrey County Council takes action to ensure that its activities do not harm the health or safety of its employees or anybody else. Surrey County Council has therefore published a Schools Health and Safety manual. The responsible person has a duty under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in relation to fire safety. Schools are required to specifically assess and manage the risk from fire. Where sleeping accommodation is provided within schools' premises, the additional risks associated must also be considered.

Failure to comply with the legislation may lead to enforcement action by the appropriate authority/agency.

The management of fire risk will include: fire protection, deterring trespass on sites and the prevention of illegal entry into buildings.