Editor's note: This blog was updated in 2023 to include additional resources.
The intent of fire and life safety inspections in K-12 school systems is to make schools safer for everyone. Minnesota's Legislature enacted an inspection program in 1990. This program entailed inspecting all public and charter schools in the state every three years. Inspections ensure fire and life safety systems will operate appropriately in the event of an incident to minimize the risk of life and property loss.
We have created a fire safety checklist for K-12 school systems. This list should merely serve as a model for school administrators and personnel regarding what's prescribed for school fire safety set-ups and procedures. As such, it's recommended to consult a fire safety contractor for full-service inspections.
Operations (plans, training, drills)
- Every school must have an emergency action plan approved by the local authority having jurisdiction.
- The State of Minnesota requires a minimum of five random fire drills for each regular school year. The first emergency evacuation drill must be conducted within 10 days of the beginning of classes.
- Staff should be trained on emergency procedures.
Maintenance of Means of Egress
- Exit passageways should be inspected daily to ensure they're in proper operating condition and are kept free of snow, ice, or debris that could impede egress.
- An annual inspection of fire and egress doors should be conducted and documented.
Fire Alarms and Emergency Lights
- Test emergency lighting systems for proper operations for a minimum of 30 seconds every month and an hour and a half annually.
- Fire alarms should be inspected for proper function on a quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis.
- All portable fire extinguishers must be visually inspected monthly and documented for obvious damage and broken seals.
- A thorough inspection following maintenance procedures in NFPA 10 is required annually.
Fire Sprinkler Systems
A designated staff member who's versed in the proper NFPA 25 Standards may perform weekly and monthly fire sprinkler inspections.
- An institution's weekly inspections should involve checking for defined air and/or water pressure on the fire sprinkler gauges and visually inspecting the valves to be sure they’re sealed and open.
- Monthly inspections should check for signs of physical damage and confirm normal water pressure on wet pipe system gauges.
- An annual fire protection inspection performed by a licensed fire contractor must be done as well as other semi-annual, and/or quarterly inspections, maintenance, and testing.
Fire Suppression Systems
- Ensure kitchen hoods and ductwork are cleaned quarterly, semi-annually, and annually.
- Visually inspect kitchen fire suppression systems to verify operating conditions and ensure they’re free from damage at least twice a year.
Decorations and Artwork
- Ensure student-prepared artwork and teaching materials do not exceed 20 percent of wall areas.
- All draperies, curtains, and similar furnishings must be classified as flame resistant according to the NFPA 701.
Fire Systems Inspections
Fire system inspections are necessary to keep up to date with industry and insurance codes. The State Fire Marshal Division is required to inspect K-12 schools once every three years to ensure school buildings are safe and up to code.
However, an inspection of critical life safety systems such as fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems must be carried out annually by a qualified contractor. Make sure to obtain a copy of the field report prepared and retain this for school records after the inspection.
Brothers Fire & Security offers maintenance and monitoring programs to enhance organizational capacity to minimize fire hazards plus plan for and respond to fire events. As a long-time member of the Minnesota Educational Facility Management Professionals, it’s our mission to help you make the learning environment safe. Brother’s Fire & Security has been vetted and approved as one of Minnesota’s contractors for fire alarm and fire sprinkler supplies.
Contact us today for further information. We’d love to help you keep your school safe.
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