Fire safety – cladding and evacuation

August 11, 2017

Staff and students of the University will be aware that universities across the UK are reviewing their fire safety. Other owners of high-rise or multiple-occupant buildings are doing this too. These are the key points for the University of South Wales:

  • USW has regular independent fire risk assessments conducted by external professional assessors. Any shortcomings they identify are rapidly dealt with.
  • All USW buildings comply with building regulations.
  • Following the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, we have assessed the cladding and insulation on all USW buildings. All of them meet the necessary fire retardant standards in their material and design. To make assurance doubly sure, we have also asked our independent fire safety assessor to undertake detailed testing of specific buildings – this is currently under way.
  • The companies that provide us with external student residential accommodation in Cardiff and Newport have also been contacted and they have confirmed that their buildings do not have the type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower, that they have up to date fire risk assessments for the buildings, that they carry out regular alarm testing and they carry out fire evacuation drills during the academic year.
  • As well as the physical design of our buildings, we also remind all students and staff about the importance of fire prevention. This includes keeping emergency escape routes clear and working, not leaving flammable material in corridors and staircases, not propping open fire doors or using fire extinguishers as door stops, and most importantly not leaving sources of ignition unattended.
  • Most importantly of all, we don’t have a “stay put” policy. At the first indication of a fire, the University policy is to evacuate fully and immediately when the fire alarms are activated. This is fully endorsed by the South Wales Fire & Rescue Service. We have regular fire drills to test and practise these procedures, and we can evacuate any building in the University in well under ten minutes.

You are welcome to raise any concerns or ask for any further information by getting in touch via Have Your Say, or your Student Union officers.

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