Fire safety strategy helps SEND school

A dedicated team from SOCOTEC UK's Fire Engineering division played a vital role in providing fire consultancy services for the construction of a SEND school which looks after 150 children aged four to nineteen with complex social and communication needs.

The SOCOTEC team was involved in constructing a two-storey L-shaped school block, housing classrooms, a nursery, a kitchen, dining facilities, and staff amenities. Additionally, contributions extended to the construction of a single-storey sports block, featuring a fitness studio, court hall, changing rooms, and storage areas. Throughout the project, SOCOTEC provided a range of fire consultancy services, developing fire safety strategies during the design stages and offering ad- hoc advice during construction. A tailored fire safety strategy was devised considering the unique needs of the occupants, with innovative design approaches to address potential challenges. To accommodate the specific requirements of SEND occupants, traditional warning alarm sounders were replaced with voice-based alarms, providing clear instructions for effective evacuation. Pre-evacuation alerts for staff members, multi-tone sounders for flexible alarm tones, and the design of common corridors as protected escape routes were implemented to enhance safety during evacuations. The width of escape routes was increased to account for the occupants' needs and potential evacuation challenges.

Key features of the fire safety strategy for this SEND School include:

•Early warning system for staff members to respond promptly during emergencies

•Multi-tone alarm system offering flexibility in alarm tones, minimising disturbance to occupants

•Protected escape routes throughout the school to enhance safety during evacuations

•Wider escape routes to compensate for potential increased evacuation times associated with the occupants’ needs.

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