Published in 2007, Building Bulletin 100 is non-statutory guidance on fire safety for schools. The Department for Education is currently updating the guidance, particularly for special schools. It covers how a school building should be designed so that pupils and staff will have early warning if a fire breaks out and can evacuate the premises quickly and safely. The Bulletin advises how to minimise the spread of fire within a school and working with the Fire and Rescue services. Building Regulations’ Approved Document B which relates to fire safety advises “The design of fire safety in schools is covered by Building Bulletin 100, which should be used. Building Bulletin 100 contains fire safety provisions that are outside the scope of the Building Regulations.”
Direct Access has contributed to the forthcoming update to the Building Bulletin 100. While the inclusion of fire evacuation lifts is welcome so as not to rely on refuge spaces, there is concern that alternative means of escape such as evacuation chairs are not covered in the planned update. Any evacuation system will require an alternative such as if a lift develops a fault or the severity of the emergency is that both lifts and chairs must be utilised due to several people requiring support to evacuate.
Direct Access also suggested that instead of having a lower grade automatic detection system for non-special schools (L3/P3 compared to L2/P2), all schools should be required to have the same category system as not every disabled young person is in a special school. Many are in mainstream schools and will have similar evacuation requirements. Indeed, many of the accessibility audits and evacuation reviews carried out by Direct Access are for mainstream schools and include staff and visitors in addition to students. Schools that are open in evenings and weekends for community use must consider those users in addition to pupils and staff.
For the first time, the guidance also covers boarding schools. Sleeping poses particular risks as people are not aware of their surroundings, particularly deaf people that would not hear the alarm or neurodiverse pupils who may be disorientated by the loud alarms.
Direct Access references the Building Bulletin alongside Part M and British Standards within our school accessibility audit programmes and also for the supply and installation of school evacuation chairs.
Responses to the Government consultation programme ends in August 2021.