The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)

No au­to­matic smoke de­tec­tors in schools

51 High­land ed­u­ca­tion es­tab­lish­ments lack mea­sures

- BY ALIS­TAIR MUNRO

High­land Coun­cil has 51 schools with­out au­to­matic smoke de­tec­tors, it has emerged.

Only 10 of the coun­try’s 32 coun­cils re­sponded to a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest. But of those, the north authority had the high­est num­ber of schools with­out the safety de­vices.

A High­land Coun­cil spokes­woman pointed out that there were fire alarms in all schools, but 51 were man­ual.

She added: “We have based our re­sponse on au­to­matic de­tec­tion be­ing a de­vice that senses smoke-ex­ces­sive heat and alerts ei­ther the oc­cu­pants di­rectly or by send­ing a sig­nal to an­other part of the in­stalled sys­tem and man­ual de­tec­tion be­ing the peo­ple in the build­ing who smell the smoke or see the fire and raise the alarm via a break glass call point.

“The Fire Pre­cau­tions Act 1971 did not-does not place a re­quire­ment on the in­stal­la­tion of au­to­matic fire de­tec­tion within school build­ings.

“The re­quire­ment is for the rais­ing of the alarm in the event of fire.

“How this is to be achieved and to what de­gree is now to be con­sid­ered within a fire risk as­sess­ment that is a re­quire­ment of leg­is­la­tion.”

Of the other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties who re­sponded, Mo­ray had three schools with­out au­to­matic de­tec­tors and Western Isles Coun­cil had two. A Mo­ray Coun­cil spokesman said: “All our 52 schools have fire de­tec­tion sys­tems backed up by reg­u­lar fire risk as­sess­ments. Three of our schools have a man­ual de­tec­tion sys­tem rather than au­to­matic.”

A spokesman for Western Isles Coun­cil said: “Both these small schools, although not fit­ted with au­to­matic de­tec­tion, are equipped with fire alarm sys­tems.”

There was no spe­cific num­ber for Aberdeen­shire Coun­cil, but a spokesman said: “We carry out reg­u­lar fire risk as­sess­ments as re­quired by law. Rec­om­men­da­tions are man­aged and im­ple­mented as soon as prac­ti­ca­ble.

“Each school in Aberdeen­shire has a fire alarm sys­tem in place. They are reg­u­larly checked and evac­u­a­tion drills are car­ried out. The fire alarm sys­tems in­clude bells and ‘break-glass’ style fire alarms. Many sys­tems in­clude au­to­matic smoke or heat de­tec­tors.”

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