The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
No automatic smoke detectors in schools
51 Highland education establishments lack measures
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.”