SCHOOL FIRE SAFETY
In 2002, the Division of State Fire Marshal assumed responsibility for developing public school fire safety standards and ensuring the inspection of public schools. An annual report on the fire safety health of public schools has been produced each fall and made available for review by citizens, parents, elected officials and those interested in the fire safe environment of public and charter schools. It should be noted that by law all Charter schools are public schools.
The State Fire Marshal’s Bureau of Fire Prevention has worked along side school districts, the Department of Education, and Florida's fire service professionals to develop Florida Administrative Code Rule Chapter 69A-58 to prescribe the procedures for conducting inspections and the fire safety standards applicable to public schools. Florida specific requirements prescribing the use of “Seclusion Time Out Rooms” and the annual reporting requirements are also included. Florida’s children have the right to a safe place to learn, teachers need a safe place to teach, and parents need to be confident that their child’s classroom is not a fire safety hazard.
Local fire officials and public school districts must employ or contract with an individual certified as a firesafety inspector in compliance with Section 633.081, Florida Statutes, in order to conduct a comprehensive fire safety inspector of each public school facility annually. Inspection reports generated from each fire safety inspection, whether conducted individually by each agency or conducted jointly with the school district's inspector must be provided on an inspection report. This report must list all identified fire safety violations, and must include a Plan of Corrective Action if violations cannot be corrected quickly. The Plan of Correction must be approved by the school board and it then becomes the official plan for bringing the school facility into compliance with the Florida Fire Prevention Code. If a school board does not adhere to the approved Plan of Correction, the State Fire Marshal may assume full enforcement responsibility for the facility until it is brought into compliance. The failure to bring a school facility into compliance could lead to an order to vacate the facility issued by the State Fire Marshal prohibiting the use of the facility until such corrections have been made.
The State Fire Marshal has developed a web-based firesafety inspection reporting system for receipt of annual fire safety inspection reports. A User’s Guide is available to assist public colleges, school districts and local fire officials with the reporting system. The State Fire Marshal is no longer accepting firesafety inspection reports that have been completed on or after July 1, 2011. The reporting authority is required to use the online reporting system to certify the inspections have been completed for the current fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). If you have questions regarding the school reporting system, the requirements of Rule Chapter 69A-58 or the statutorily required annual reporting process, you may contact Ms. Casia Sinco with the Division of State Fire Marshal at Casia.Sinco@MyFloridaCFO.com or 850.413.3610.
Florida Fire Safety School Evaluation System
In order to promote the reuse of older public school buildings and reducing the cost for construction of new schools, the State Fire Marshal developed the Florida Fire Safety Evaluation System. This quantitative performance-based system recognizes the built-in fire protection features of each individual building and generates a numerical value to determine its equivalency to newer code requirements. The use of this system may provide cost savings to school districts when evaluating the feasibility of modifying buildings initially occupied prior to January 1, 1985. School districts should consult with the local fire official prior to initiating construction based on the findings of the Fire Safety Evaluation System.