Many schools every weekend (and holiday period) find themselves being left empty. Unfortunately, an empty school – if not left correctly, can prove to be a space laden with potential fire hazards. One way to counteract these and to ensure that your school is left safely over the weekends and holidays in by installing fire curtains in schools.
Potential Fire Hazards Common in an Empty School
Some of the most common fire hazards that are often found in empty school and forgotten about in the busy run up to half terms, holidays and weekends are listed below
All lights can become a hazard when they are left on for too long or forgotten about. It is important they do not overload circuit extension cords. Always ensure that all lights are off before leaving a school.
When waste items are allowed to accumulate because they have been left out, the risk of fire increases. Under the right conditions, the build up of dust from wood, plastic or certain metal operations can lead to a fire or explosion. It is important that waste products are correctly dispensed off and thrown out. In the same way, anything blocking hallways and exits should be moved and correctly stored in case of emergency.
Overloaded plug sockets
Never overload plug sockets or extension leads. By using a number of appliances that exceed the current rating stated for that particular extension lead you create a great fire hazard. This is because overloading a plug socket can cause the socket to overheat and start a fire. Thus, it is best to check all electrical equipment and remove defective equipment before the school is emptied.
Instead, ensure that all electrical cords are in a good condition and if found wanting, dispose of them. Make sure that you plug appliances and lights into separate electrical outlets to reduce the risk of overheating. And if devices or other plugs are not needed, unplug them and turn off at the main switch. Also, avoid using extension cords and if when they are in use, use them safely and always monitor them. For instance, do not place them under carpets or across walking areas. In the same way as before, overloading extension cords can easily be a source of ignition.
Flammable materials left out in high-risk non-teaching areas
A fire needs only three elements to ignite, spread and cause irrevocable damage. These are heat, oxygen and fuel, without a fire will not start or spread. Following, a key fire prevention strategy is to remove one or more of these elements, especially in school areas such as the science laboratory or design and technology department where there often is heat, oxygen and fuel.
Flammable materials found in schools – including paper – can be extremely powerful and potent in the event of a fire. Consequently, it is so important that they are put away safely and properly by a school authority.
All alarms and detectors working
Ensure all alarms and detectors are working before the term ends so that in the event of a fire it can be caught and dealt with early to save as much damage occurring as possible.
Gas leak checks
If gas appliances, such as ovens, cookers and boilers, are not properly installed and maintained, there is a huge risk of fire. Included in these types of gas fires are often explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning which makes them all the more dangerous. Ensure that before breaking up for the end of a term, all gas devices are thoroughly checked and turned off and that all rooms have good ventilation.
Fire Curtains in Schools: What are they?
Simply put, fire curtains are automatically operating protective curtains designed to prevent and control the movement of smoke, fire and heat around a building. Built from fire resistant fabrics, fire curtains remain invisible until retracted or activated by a fire alarm system.
Fire curtains in schools are designed primarily to protect escape routes and to manage fire and smoke. However, a secondary functionality of them is that they enable safer open plan areas to be built, which for schools often are requisite. This is achieved by their installation as a temporary fire barrier in the place or more permanent non-load bearing walls that act to compartment an area to allow for safe evacuation from the building, fire curtains offer designers many benefits.
Recent research into fire resistant materials has led to fire curtains being manufactured via glass fibre fabrics being woven with a metal thread. This adds strength, resistance to flex fatigue and increases a fire curtains potential temperature resistance to 1000°C for four hours.
From our bespoke concertina curtain installed in Apple’s Shanghai flagship store, to our unique SmokeStop™ curtain that protects York Minster and to domestic properties up and down the country, Coopers Fire have developed a wide range of BS EN certified smoke curtains and fire curtains that work with every building, in every possible application, including the protection of schools.
How Can Fire Curtains in Schools Help?
Fire curtains in schools offer a whole host of safety benefits. They protect a building and its assets as well as its pupils, staff and visitors from the potential effects of toxic smoke and deadly heat. These highly resistant curtains have recently also impacted greatly on school design:
Traditionally, designers and architects have had difficulty reconciling open plan buildings with fire safety regulations, which in schools are paramount. These regulations state that all properties must provide a clear means of escape and a way of restricting smoke and fire in order to control its spread. As open plan design involves the removal of non-load bearing walls that work via compartmentation as fire and smoke barriers, an alternative replacement is required.
This is proving to be a growing problem as for schools open plan areas are essential to enable collaborative environments for schools including lecture areas, large classrooms, theatres, sports halls, assembly areas and so on. For schools, fire curtains provide an all-encompassing solution: They offer compartmentation and boundary protection, whilst remaining discreetly hidden and allowing larger spaces to be built safely.
Where can Fire Curtains in Schools be used?
Different weaves in both fire and smoke curtains can be matched with a whole host of different coatings to offer a variety of properties. This means that fire curtains in schools can be applied to a range of applications.
This adaptability allows Coopers Fire to offer fabrics that are custom-made to suit every application or system found in today’s modern and more traditional school environments. Resultantly, Coopers Fire fire curtains can be applied to any problem area, the most popular uses of our curtain are:
● Atrium, Lobbies & Receptions
● Egress & Corridor Separation
Coopers Fire Fire Curtains for Schools
Coopers Fire are industry leaders in providing, designing, installing and servicing fire curtains and smoke curtains in many schools. We can offer bespoke services and design a smoke or fire resistant curtain that completely meets your desired plans.
If you would like to discuss what fire curtain products would suit your school, or if you require a more bespoke solution to protect your pupils and staff and to ensure fire safety in your school, please visit our website, contact page or products pages.