0370 270 6000

already registered?

Please sign in with your existing account details.

need to register?

Register to access exclusive content, sign up to receive our updates and personalise your experience on brownejacobson.com.

Privacy statement - Terms and conditions

UK universities receive fire and safety complaints

9 December 2019

Statistics released by Eaton indicate that 1 in 4 Universities have received complaints about fire safety issues or building evacuation procedures from students, staff or members of the public in the last 5 years.

This information was obtained through Freedom of Information (FoI) requests issued to 134 Universities across the UK; and the findings are based on 76 responses.

It is reported that many universities abide by minimum standards for fire safety but do not invest in further technology.

The FoI responses revealed that universities communicate through passive materials (such as posters or designated fire exits or digital materials like webinars) rather than active methods. It also revealed that 92% of universities do not have adaptive signage that switches between predefined routes dependant on the situation. For example if there was a fire the adaptive signage would direct individuals to a safe exit avoiding any exits blocked by the fire.

These findings are particularly relevant given that use of energy at universities is very high and can be described as ‘always-on’ environments. The high usage increases the risk of electrical fires therefore it is recommended that new technologies are used to protect against these sorts of fires.

Marc Gaunt, segment lead for commercial buildings at Eaton, has stressed the need for adaptive technologies that respond to specific circumstances to ensure safe evacuations.

We have advised many organisations on their fire safety duties under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Ultimately an organisation can be prosecuted by the local fire authority if it is found that there are breaches of the duties set out in the Order.

A suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment should not only check that the current systems in place work but also consider if new, more advanced systems should be put in place.

The impact of not having preventative measures and advanced evacuation systems in place could be devastating. Investing in new technologies based on proper risk assessment should be of paramount importance.

All universities should regularly undertake fire drills to ensure all members of staff and students know and understand evacuation procedures.

related opinions

Lateral flow daily contact testing paused

Following last week’s Guardian article about the concerns over lateral flow daily testing for those identified as having been a close contact of a person testing positive for Covid-19, Public Health England (PHE) and NHS Test and Trace (NHSTT) have published a position statement to recommend that daily contact testing in schools will be paused.

View blog

Lateral flow testing in schools

Lateral flow testing is underway in schools across England to provide rapid Covid-19 testing of staff and students in secondary schools and colleges.

View blog

School opening FAQ – 4 January 2021

Our FAQ has been put together to assist you in decision-making on school opening.

View blog

mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up