Paul Adams, marketing manager at Hochiki Europe, explains why it is crucial to ensure life safety equipment installers and facilities managers in the education sector have access to the latest fire safety training.
Whatever the purpose of a building, having properly installed and maintained fire safety and emergency lighting equipment is vital to protect the wellbeing of occupants.
Nowhere is this more important than in education developments, where schools cater to some of the youngest and most vulnerable members of society, while universities contend with a spread of buildings and often transient visitors who may not be familiar with their surroundings.
Both the people fitting and those maintaining life safety systems have a duty to ensure the equipment offers optimum performance throughout its lifetime. This means making sure the technology is installed correctly and regularly maintained according to the requirements of the latest fire safety regulations.
The state of play
Despite the importance of correct installation and regulatory compliance, a new study from Hochiki Europe has found nearly half (49 per cent) of European fire safety equipment installers, including those serving the education sector, are not familiar with the latest fire and emergency lighting legislation. Moreover, almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of respondents have not received any installation or maintenance training in the last two years.
The lack of understanding revealed by the study is worrying. If a university’s life safety system has been installed or looked after improperly, then there is a higher risk of component failure during a genuine emergency, putting the safety and wellbeing of occupants at risk.
Getting up to speed
It is crucial that specifiers and installers both carry out regular research and undertake training to ensure they are aware of any upcoming changes to major regulations and guidelines. Fire safety and construction industry bodies offer a wealth of information on standards, as well as guidance on appropriate installation and maintenance of equipment.
Manufacturers can also offer support at the specification stage to help choose the most suitable life safety solutions for the particular needs of the education development in question. In addition, a number of manufacturers provide free training courses to help both installers and maintenance teams hone their skills and knowledge throughout their careers.
Ensuring top marks
Life safety and building regulations are becoming ever more rigorous, while fire and emergency lighting technology is constantly evolving to provide improved performance. Such change is intended not only to maintain the welfare of building users, but also to protect the development itself from costly damage in the event of a fire.
It is imperative that education specifiers ensure the people installing, inspecting and maintaining life safety systems in their buildings have the means to expand their technical knowledge and brush up their professional expertise through training and development. This way, they can ensure that their premises meet the latest standards, protecting the lives of students, staff and visitors, as well as safeguarding the long-term integrity of the building.