Fire Safety in Educational Establishments

Created on: 27 Jul 2023

The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (as amended) introduced changes to fire safety law and repealed previous fire safety legislation.

The Act places a duty on employers, employees, managers, owners and others in relation to fire safety. The Act, together with the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, provides the legal framework for fire safety in Scotland and requires all employers to carry out a suitable fire safety risk assessment.

The Scottish Executive has produced guidance on ‘Fire Safety in Educational Premises and in Premises Used for Day Care of Children’ which provides recommendations on the fire risk assessment process, the reduction of risk and on fire safety measures that can be implemented to mitigate risks.

Councils should ensure that they are following the guidance, or taking measures that are equally as effective, when carrying out fire risk assessments. A fire risk assessment is required for all schools, colleges and universities.

The aim of the legislation is to ensure the safety of all persons in the premises by setting our fire safety responsibilities. Fire risk assessment is required and risk assessments must ensure legislative requirements are met, reduce risk and put in place arrangements to ensure control and review the fire safety measures.

Risk assessments must be recorded and kept under reviewed as necessary. Safety Reps should contact the Fire Prevention Officers when they visit their workplace, although Fire Prevention Officers are not obliged to liaise with Safety Reps or make information available to them.

Nevertheless they may respond to general enquiries from Safety Reps and to any complaints regarding infringements of fire safety standards. The Fire Prevention Officer can be contacted through the local fire service in most cases.

The Fire and Rescue Authority or Joint Fire and Rescue Board for the area is the enforcing authority for fire safety. Enforcement notices can be issued to require specific actions and, if there is imminent danger, a prohibition notice can be issued which could restrict the use of the premises.

There are financial penalties for breaches of fire safety standards or laws in the courts, and if convicted in a higher court the potential for an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment or both exists.

HSE inspectors are responsible for the fire safety standards in certain high fire risk places of work and the control of the storage of certain flammable liquids. In addition, their general health and safety duties under HASAWA mean that they inspect and enforce general safety standards relating to fire hazards and risk.