As schools plan to re-open their doors in the days and weeks ahead, school and local officials are working diligently to implement measures that help minimize exposure to and spread of COVID-19. While much emphasis has understandably been placed on these issues and concerns, it’s critical that adequate levels of fire and life safety continue to be maintained in the process.
NFPA’s new fact sheet, Building and Life Safety Issues for Safely Reopening Schools, provides fire and life safety considerations for schools as they prepare to re-open, including building modifications like door operability, classroom usage, seating arrangements, and partitions, as well egress management and storage of hand sanitizer and cleaning products. It’s important to note that many of these issues require review and input from the local AHJ, as all changes and modifications must be implemented in accordance with local codes and standards. This applies to fire drills, which are briefly covered in this new resource; the blog I posted last week addresses school fire drill requirements in more detail, as outlined in NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.
Simply put, the risk of fires and other emergencies has not disappeared in the midst of the pandemic. It’s imperative that measures remain in place to adequately protect students, faculty and staff from these potential threats, even at a time when they’re not necessarily at the forefront of many people’s minds.