School fires can lead to devastating consequences. Not only are lives at risk, but everything the school has been collecting for many years could also be lost or damaged.
The effects of a fire can be very costly to repair and cause a lot of disruption to the school environment. The Responsible Person will oversee fire safety for the whole school and so their role is vital for fire prevention and protection.
What is a “Responsible Person”?
The Responsible Person is ultimately the person who has legal responsibility for the fire safety in the building. It is highly important that all schools have an appointed Responsible Person, as they are in charge of overseeing the safety of everyone who attends. If they are not ensuring that their school is taking sufficient action for fire safety, they can be fined or sent to prison for not meeting regulations.
Who is the Responsible Person?
The Responsible Person will be the employer, owner of the premises or person who controls the premises. In a school this is usually the headteacher, deputy, or could be the maintenance manager.
What are the duties of the Responsible Person?
- Carrying out and reviewing risk assessments on a regular basis and recording all findings.
- Ensuring that any risks that have been identified and resolved have been shared with other members of staff.
- Preparing a plan to follow in the case of emergency.
- Putting in place fire safety measures and precautions and ensure these are maintained.
- Communicating fire safety information and instructions to staff, students and visitors.
- Ensuring fire safety training is carried out by staff on a regular basis.
- Liaising with other Responsible Persons for the school.
- If dangerous substances are used, eg in the science lab, ensuring that they are used and stored safely.
- Keeping all routes to fire exits clear.
- Carrying out regular fire drills, for staff and students.
If the Responsible Person is unsure about any aspects of their role they can hire a fire safety expert, who can offer advice and carry out risk assessments.
What is the difference between a Responsible Person and a Fire Warden?
The Responsible Person has a legal responsibility to oversee fire safety for the whole school. However, some of these duties can be delegated on to the Fire Wardens. Fire Wardens assist the Responsible Person in emergency procedure planning and fire prevention.