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January 31, 2024

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Fire safety boosted at specialised SEN school in London

SOCOTEC UK’s Fire Engineering division provides fire consultancy services for the construction of a specialised SEN School in Southwark.

The St. Olave’s school in Southwark, London, caters to approximately 150 children aged four to 19 with complex social and communication needs, ensuring a high-quality education through specialist facilities and adaptive teaching techniques.

The SOCOTEC team

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, the firm 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, said SOCOTEC.

‘Traditional’ systems replaced with voice-based alarms 

To accommodate the specific requirements of SEN occupants, traditional warning alarm sounders were replaced with voice-based alarms, designed to provide 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 further enhance safety during evacuations. The width of escape routes was also increased to account for the occupants’ needs and potential evacuation challenges.

Key features of the fire safety strategy for this SEN School included:

  • Early warning system for staff members to respond promptly during emergencies
  • Multi-tone alarm system designed for increased flexibility in alarm tones, minimising disturbance to occupants
  • Protected escape routes throughout the school aimed to enhance safety during evacuations
  • Wider escape routes designed to compensate for potential increased evacuation times associated with the occupants’ needs.

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