How can I stop the school being burnt down?
There are a number of way of approaching fire risk assessment to ensure that your school remains safe and protected from arson. The key approaches are to either develop in-house risk management expertise; use guidance documents; or bring in some external consultants. The APB has a free advice leaflet available. There are other sources of information - for example, the Fire Protection Association, or ODPM.
How can I tell if we have a problem?
General vigilance around the site by building managers and staff is the easiest way. The Fire Service estimates that over 80% of schools that suffer a catastrophic fire have previously suffered small fires - often not reported to the Fire Service."
I can't afford to install fancy alarm systems, what else can I do?
Don't give up there! There is a lot that can be achieved through sensible, low-cost housekeeping techniques. Securing perimeter fences, locking rubbish bins and stores, making sure science labs are properly locked - these are the sorts of things that should be done routinely. The APB advice leaflet gives some guidance on what you can do.
Should I bother the Fire Brigade if I've already put the fire out?
All too often the first contact a school has with a Fire Brigade is a 999 call. If you have a small fire in a bin that you have put out, or find other evidence of small-scale arson, talk to the Fire Brigade - they can offer support, fire safety advice, and it gives them a clearer picture of possible arsonists activities in the area. Don't be afraid to ask them for advice!
What's the harm in kids mucking about?
The majority of school arson is opportunist - just kids messing around! It often goes along with graffitti and vandalism. Very often the intention of the arsonist is not to burn down a school - it is to set fire to a bin, a skip or someone's coat, something with little perceived value. But as this spreads to the school building it can very quickly become serious.
Won't insurance pay for it?
The cost of damage may be covered by the Local Education Authority, which will divert funds from other essential resources. Insurance is there to assist in the financial recovery following a fire but cannot replace lost schoolwork, lost schooldays, or disruption to jobs and community resources. Your insurer can however provide assistance and advice to stop you becoming the victim of an arson attack.