“Fire Aware” Campaign Assists Parents, Educators and Students Heading Back To School
Campaign Focuses on Fire Safety in Nontraditional Classroom Settings
As part of the Fire Aware program, parents, educators and others should familiarize themselves with these questions and helpful fire safety tips, including:
Does the space being utilized have working fire alarms, fire sprinklers and/or smoke alarms?
- If the building has a fire alarm or fire sprinkler system, make sure it is operational by checking that it’s received testing and inspections as possibly required. If you are in a commercial business, you can check by looking at the inspection date on the tags at the fire alarm system panel or fire sprinkler riser.
- Fire extinguishers are an important fire safety tool. Inspect them monthly to ensure they are not missing and have not been damaged. In a commercial business, fire extinguishers may also require annual inspections from licensed inspectors.
- Does the building or home have working smoke alarms that are tested regularly? If the building or home needs smoke alarms, you should contact your local fire department and ask if they participate in the “Get Alarmed, Tennessee!” smoke alarm program through the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Does the space have an emergency fire escape plan? Will fire drills be conducted?
- Schools are required to have emergency plans for fires, storms and earthquakes to help teachers, students and administrators respond to emergencies so it’s a good idea to have them for your building, too. If you don’t already have an emergency plan, now may be a good time to develop one. Safety plans help keep everyone in your building safer when an emergency occurs.
- Schools are required to have periodic fire drills to practice exiting the building. Because students might be in a new environment, you may want to consider conducting periodic fire drills, too.
- A fire drill should simulate how the emergency exiting notice is given, which exits to take and where to assemble outside so no one has to ask those questions when a real fire occurs. Make sure to have a designated meeting space outside far enough away from the structure.
Are the exits easy to find and access?
- One of the most important aspects of fire safety is being able to safely exit the building. Make sure exit doors can be opened easily and that they are not improperly locked. Obstructions in corridors or exit stairs are hazards for everyone – ensure there is a clear pathway to all exits.
- Locate students in the safest parts of buildings. The ground floor is the best location. Basements or areas below ground should be used for students only if there are exit doors to the outside at that level.
- Many schools have emergency access and egress windows in classrooms that allow for students to escape the room and for firefighters to more easily enter the building. If available, students should use rooms that have operable windows that are large enough to climb through in an emergency.
- The building owners should not allow combustibles such as trash, paper, cardboard and boxes of supplies to accumulate to dangerous levels, and combustibles should not be stored in corridors or stairs. If you have any concerns, contact your local codes or fire officials about conducting an inspection.
- Please refrain from hanging items from the ceiling and placing too many things on the walls that could create a visual obstruction or cause a fire to burn hotter and faster.
Is a stove being used in the learning space?
- Cooking fires contribute to over 22 percent of fires in buildings other than restaurants in Tennessee. Whether at home or school or somewhere in between, please always remember to exercise fire safety when cooking.
- Never leave a stove or oven on and unattended. If you must leave the room, even for a short period of time, turn off the stove. Staying alert helps prevent cooking fires
Questions about a learning pod? Contact the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office team with your questions. Call George Smith at (615) 604-4195 or Chris Bainbridge at (615) 741-6246
To download a printable "Fire Aware" checklist, click here.