Lockdown Systems for Schools

What is Lockdown?

Lockdown means the ability to secure all areas of a building against a potential threat.  Many view school lockdown procedures as a line of defence against an intruder with malicious intent.  Whilst this is true, there are many other reasons lockdown may be required.  These include:

  • A reported incident / civil disturbance in the local community (with the potential to pose a risk to staff and pupils in the school);
  • An intruder on the school site or in the premises (with the potential to pose a risk to staff and pupils);
  • A warning being received regarding a risk locally, of air pollution (smoke plume, gas cloud etc);
  • The close proximity of a dangerous animal.

How does it operate?

School lockdown systems are designed to close and lock all external doors, usually via a network of electro-magnets although other locking systems can be used.  In addition, internal doors can be included in the system in case the intruder has already entered the building.

Every lockdown system is unique, and customised to your own school facility and activities/procedures onsite.

What to do in a Lockdown?

This largely depends upon the nature and layout of your facility, and the potential risks you perceive onsite.  Typical actions in a school lockdown situation will include:

  • Alerting staff to the activation of the school lockdown plan by a recognised signal, audible throughout the school,
  • Bringing pupils from outside into the school buildings as quickly as possible,
  • Locking all external doors and windows as necessary,
  • Having arrangements for staff to notify the school office of any pupils not accounted for.

Communicating During a Lockdown

During a school lockdown, one of the most important things to consider is good communication.  Uncertainly can bring out the most irrational and unpredictable aspects of human nature, whilst also delaying a correct response to the incident.  That’s why it’s essential to consider the following points:

  • Training, so that everyone understands their role in a school lockdown situation to prevent unnecessary panic.
  • Communication with all staff during the event. Consider a paging system, or an instant messaging group such as WhatsApp for keeping everyone informed.
  • Communication with Emergency Services if required. Have a designated procedure/personnel for this task.
  • Communication with Parents/Guardians, to keep them informed and avoid them coming to the school during the incident.
  • Surrey County Council have issued some helpful advice on this latter point – https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/95561/LOCKDOWN-GUIDANCE-FINAL-SUMMER-2016-web-version.pdf

Choosing / implementing your own School Lockdown alarm system

This partially depends upon the nature of the systems you already have onsite, your available budget and whether you’re looking at protecting a brand new school build or new system fit out, or trying to achieve the best possible result with the systems you already have onsite.

REMEMBER – there are no set rules for school lockdown systems.  It is a matter of finding out what is best for your facility.  Choose an experienced and versatile partner who can help you find the best solution for your own specific requirements.

Raising the Alarm:

Firstly, remember that your School Lockdown Alarm is a more unique and application-specific solution than your fire alarm system, and you don’t have a set ‘code’ of rules to comply to.  Typically, your lockdown alarm will be activated manually by points close to the main entrance doors.

Start off by looking at your site security strategy and the building layout.  If the only place that an unauthorised person can gain access into your school during teaching hours is via the main reception, then you should have a manual ‘lockdown activation’ switch there, and possibly also in the staffroom and headteachers office.

If your facility is comprised of multiple separate buildings, you may also need additional manual ‘lockdown activation’ devices in these areas.  Alternatively, what is the procedure for staff to contact the main reception / security office in an emergency requiring a full school lockdown?

Additionally, you need to be able to avoid false school lockdown alarms by malicious or accidental activation.  For this reason, we recommend keeping your lockdown activation points with in staff-only areas, or using a key-activated type call point unit (with all staff carrying the key) to help prevent false alarms.

Alarm Types / Tones

There are a wide range of options for raising the school lockdown alarm which we’ll cover below, but first you need to consider these points:

  1. Is your lockdown alarm tone sufficiently different from the Fire Alarm or Class Change systems?
  2. If not, would proper staff training ensure that they can accurately distinguish between the different alarm sounds?
  3. Will the students within your school be with staff supervision at all times? If not, (i.e. college environment) then your alarm tone must be sufficiently different that everyone can understand it.  Preferably, a voice alarm or tannoy message with additional instructions would provide the best solution in this application.
  4. Depending upon the complexity of your site, do you need to have precautions on your final exit doors (i.e. door isolations / illuminated signage) to ensure an intruder cannot enter the building via deliberate or accidental assistance from inside?

Fire alarm / Class change system (with a different bell sound);

  • This is usually one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve the lockdown alarm.
  • Depending upon the type of systems you already have, it may be possible to use the existing alarm / bell infrastructure to sound a different type of alarm (pulsing vs. continuous) to signify a lockdown situation.
  • If using this route, staff training is essential to ensure they can accurately distinguish between the two alarms and react accordingly. Consider the points noted above to ensure that this solution is a viable option for your facility.

Voice Alarms (sounders/speaker system that can deliver different pre-recorded messages);

  • Voice alarms are one of the best ways of clearly delivering specific messages for specific alarm types. With multiple message alerts available on a single system, voice alarms can deliver different alerts for lockdown, fire alarm and any other requirement.

Illuminated warning signage over exit doors (Visual Alarm Devices);

  • A great solution to warn people inside, not to evacuate the building or open the doors to people outside during the lockdown duration.
  • Illuminated warning signage over the exit doors
  • Scrolling message board

Onsite Tannoy System;

  • Some of these systems can be equipped with pre-recorded messages. An electronic input from your school lockdown control system can trigger these messages / tones to play in the event of an emergency.
  • A tannoy system is also a great way to make site-wide announcements during a lockdown to keep everyone informed.

Paging System;

  • This is great way to communicate messages to staff members throughout the facility, allowing them to then implement the schools lockdown procedure.
  • This technique may be a good alternative to raising a general alarm in applications where a lockdown alarm could cause unnecessary distress to your students.

Security system door isolation, to prevent unauthorised admission of an intruder from inside;

  • One of the biggest concerns during a school lockdown, is the accidental or malicious admission of an intruder into the building via one of the exit doors.
  • This is particularly a concern if there is a risk of persons misinterpreting the lockdown alarm for a fire alarm, causing an evacuation to the external assembly point.
  • Your access control system may be able to isolate the final exit doors around your school, to prevent them from being opened during a lockdown.

Security systems to isolate the reception and waiting areas from the rest of the school;

  • The most obvious place for a potential intruder to enter your school building is through the front door. Having a reception and greeting area which is isolated from the rest of the school building is a simple and inexpensive way to prevent unauthorised access into other areas.
  • A simple code or keyfob operated door lock is an ideal solution for these areas.

Fire Alarm VS Lockdown Alarm

The two alarms have completely opposite meanings:

  • If your school is in lockdown, everyone is supposed to stay inside with the windows and doors locked.
  • If the fire alarm is activated, everyone is supposed to evacuate to an central external assembly point.

Evacuating the building means exposing yourself to the intruder!  Staying in the building means potentially running the gauntlet with fire!  So how do you find any middle ground?

The concern of course is, that the fire alarm system could be used maliciously – evacuating the building during a lockdown, and forcing persons into a potentially harmful or dangerous situation.  However, is it safe or practical to ignore a fire alarm?

How to react to a simultaneous alarm activation

This is a complex issue, which can largely depend upon your facilities layout, the systems/procedures you are using for your lockdown and the fire alarm system itself.  It may be possible to;

  1. Totally isolate the fire alarm sounders during a lockdown, but have a manual fire-watch in place
  2. Isolate the manual call points during a lockdown, to reduce the chances of a malicious evacuation.
  3. Have a ‘stay put’ strategy during a lockdown, regardless of fire alarm activations. This would require a very well-considered safety plan, liaison with the fire service, and absolute confidence in the passive fire protection of your facility.
  4. Have a policy to delay evacuation for 60 seconds in the event of a fire alarm activation while lockdown is in action. This would allow time for an announcement over the tannoy to alert everyone whether they should evacuate or not

Whatever procedure is in place, every responsible person must be aware and trained in what to do, otherwise the resulting confusion could cause a potentially harmful and dangerous situation occurring.

Useful Resources

NaCTSO (National Counter Terrorism Security Office) guide on lockdown procedures.

Download NaCTSO Guide Here

We would also recommend that you download the Central Bedfordshire Council’s guide “Lockdown Procedures, Guidance to schools and academies – (November 2013)”.  This document provides some useful guidance on creating your own lockdown strategy.

Download CBC School Lockdown Guide Here

Contact Us

For more information or to book a free site visit to discuss your requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us

Ember Detection

Process lines are high risk.  Within minutes, a tiny fire or hot particle could have travelled all the way through your plant, setting fire to other items on its way.

Waste recycling has one of the highest risk types of process line, although sectors such as Coal, Biomass and Manufacturing (even industrial food production) all have high-risk process conveyors.  Ember/Spark detection is the most suitable solution for the protection of these area.

Waste Recycling – Fires on Shredder Outfeed Conveyors and other areas:

A fire in transit doesn’t always start off as a fire.  Sometimes, it can just be an item which has been damaged or overheated in a previous process – although it isn’t flaming, it can contain the  energy to start a fire when it reaches a material stockpile.

In the waste recycling environment, dozens of conveyors transfer your material from one process to the next, potentially spreading a fire.  Key items which are likely to initiate a fire or hot particle include Shedders, Separators and Bag Openers.  These high-energy processes can start a fire in many ways – such as damaging a lithium-ion battery, crushing an aerosol or even just shredding a piece of tramp metal, where the friction can create a hot particle.

If you don’t have ember detection on the outfeed from these processes, a tiny fire risk could go on to destroy your facility.

Case Study 1 – Ember Detector vs Flame Detector at DMR Facility

This incident occurred at a client’s brand new MRF which we protect, processing dry mixed recyclables (DMR) in September 2017.

A 18v lithium-ion battery was shredded, damaging it and causing the battery to arc.  At this time, there was no protection on the shredder outfeed (this wasn’t part of our scope of works).  The battery was carried into a dosing bunker, where it continued to spark and started some small smoldering fires in the material inside the bunker.  The bunker was protected with Flame Detection, and Water Mist deluge installed by Blazequel.

As there were no ‘flames’ in the dosing bunker, the flame detectors did not activate.  The sparking / heat of a damaged battery does not create sufficient energy to activate a flame detector.

On the Dosing Bunker Outfeed (an incline conveyor) we had installed Ember Detection and Water Mist Deluge.  As soon as the the battery passed onto the incline conveyor we detected the risk, activating the deluge.  The site was alarmed, and the risk dealt with safely.

If the ember detectors had not been in place, the battery would have gone into the ballistic separator and following seperators and could have ultimately started a serious fire in one of the final storage bunkers.  

This incident is just one of many similar ‘fire saves’ we have made at waste recycling facilities with ember detection.

Case Study 2 – Ember Detection vs Flame Detection at C&D Waste Facility.

This incident also occurred at a brand new waste recycling facility which we protect, in April 2018.

A high-speed flame detector was installed at the bottom of a shredder outfeed conveyor, to immediately detect any high risk incidents emitting from the shredding chamber.  Additionally, ember detection was installed higher up the conveyor belt, to ensure that any residual risks such as hot particles were detected before entering the plant.

The ember detector activated, stopping the process and triggering the site fire alarm.  When the client investigated, a crushed and melted ratchet strap (which had clearly got tangled and overheated in the shredded) was found beneath the ember detector.  This object could have had the energy to start a fire in the stockpile which the shredder was feeding, but the flame detector didn’t spot it – as it wasn’t ‘flaming’.

This clearly demonstrates the superior fire safety performance of ember detection at specific transit points on process lines.  Flame detectors are superb in the correct application, but won’t spot a small risk which could go on to become a serious fire.

Contact Blazequel for free advice on how best to protect your facility.


Ancillary Supplies & Equipment

If you need any fire safety parts, signage, cabinets or equipment, please contact us today.  Our extensive range covers a huge variety of fire safety equipment, much of it available on next day delivery.

Please send us an email using the form below, or call the team on 01234 357357 to discuss your requirements in more detail.

Nurse Call Systems

Blazequel supply, install and maintain a wide range of high quality nurse call systems and devices, offering total solutions for a wide range of applications. From our powerful conventional systems, offering an efficient solution to meet every budget, right through to the most advanced addressable call systems the industry has to offer, Blazequel can do it all!

Bespoke requirements, such as panic attack fobs for staff protection, surgery call signs and disabled toilet alarms can be interfaced into the main system, with an even more advanced range of motion and behaviour sensors for the mental health sector.

Other options available include directional emergency lighting and alternative forms of alerting patients, such as flashing beacons, paging machines and vibrating under pillow pads for hard of hearing patients.

Conventional Call Systems

In its simplest form, the Blazequel Conventional Call System:

  • Allows the general public, a member of staff or a patient to call for assistance;
  • Confirms that the call has got through;
  • Makes sure the caller is visited; and, if required;
  • Allows extra or more urgent assistance to be summoned using an optional ‘emergency’ call facility.

However, the unrivalled flexibility and versatility of the 800 Series Call System means it can also be used to:

  • Inform staff that someone is being attacked via an optional infrared  ‘staff attack’ facility.
  • Monitor storage cupboards, cash offices and stock rooms for unauthorised  access.
  • Monitor doorbells, telephones and machinery for activation or failure.
  • Send notification of calls to hand-held paging equipment.
  • It a very powerful and flexible system, and will support up to 90 individual zones!

A huge range of devices for a extensive range of applications can be included in these systems, which are designed to fit inside your requirements.

Addressable Call Systems

Blazequel`s most efficient access control system, Quantec is a powerful yet easy to use call system that helps ensure vital communication throughout a building. In environments where efficiency is paramount, Quantec delivers, helping save staff time, minimising disturbance and improving the quality of patient, customer and/or employee care.

Recently updated to include a host of new features, the way the system operates can be tailored to suit a care facility’s specific requirements. For example, different day, night and call divert arrangements can be easily accommodated to meet the exact operational needs and precise layout of any building.

This flexibility, coupled with many other advanced features such as multiple call levels, free built-in datalogging, simple system reprogramming and full monitoring of all network devices, makes Quantec the obvious choice for nursing homes, hospitals, health centres and many other private and public sector establishments.

Key features:

  • Multiple call levels – including Standard, Ensuite, Help Required, Emergency, Attack, Presence & Attendance
  • Wide range of system components – including programmable call points, ceiling pulls, monitoring points, displays, infrared ceiling receivers, radio receivers, staff attack transmitters and neck pendants (now with User ID), overdoor lights and sounders
  • Flexible call routing – Quantec can be tailored to suit a site’s exact operational requirements, whatever they may be
  • Call accept – Saves valuable time by preventing more than one member of staff responding to the same call
  • Automatic call divert – Transfers any unanswered calls to other areas to ensure they are responded to within a pre-determined time
  • Follow-me lights – Illuminates overdoor lights and corridor lights in sequence to visually guide staff to the source of a call
  • Staff presence – Helps managers, matrons and carers locate their colleagues by showing where they are working
  • Call follower sounders – Informs staff that other calls are waiting by sounding a soft tone in all occupied rooms (optional)
  • Night mode – Allows Quantec to work in a totally different way at night, providing for fewer staff and reduced sound levels
  • Infrared staff protection – Quantec’s optional infrared security transmitters can help protect staff against disturbed patients, intruders and aggressive visitors
  • ‘Surveyor’ data analysis software – Allows managers to output custom reports on longest calls, busiest shifts, most visited rooms, etc., to a desktop PC
  • Optional paging facilities – Optional alphanumeric and tone-only paging facilities available for carers on the move (DECT telephone capability also available)
  • Device monitoring – Quantec constantly supervises all network devices and informs you of any problems, reducing maintenance time and costs
  • Laptop programmable system controller – Allows Quantec to adapt to your changing requirements with no expensive rewiring, no mess and no fuss
  • Easy to install & expand -Quantec’s ‘two wire’ data transfer system makes it ideal for new and established sites where existing wiring can often be utilised
  • Universal programming devices – Allows optional third-party switch assemblies to be interfaced to Quantec for optional compliance with HTM 08-03
  • Tried, trusted & respected – From large NHS trusts to renowned nursing home groups, Quantec is specified by some of the UK’s most prestigious care providers

Easy to use

From the moment Quantec is up-and-running, you will begin to reap the benefits of the most advanced, versatile and affordable call system on the market.  Quantec’s easy-to-read backlit displays show the precise location of all relevant incoming calls and indicate their presence via a gentle unobtrusive alarm tone. Should you visit a room only to find additional assistance is required, simply reach across to the nearest call point to make a ‘help required’ or ‘emergency’ call. Quantec will prioritise your call, show it on all relevant displays and indicate its higher priority with a more urgent alarm tone easily recognisable by fellow staff.

Clear & concise

To say Quantec is easy to use is an understatement. Despite its many features, it is one of the easiest to use call systems ever manufactured. Calls can be made from a variety of devices including tail call leads, ceiling pulls and pressure pads, each designed to suit different levels of patient dexterity. Once triggered, calls are reset at the room from which they were made via a button or magnetic reset key. A confidence light on the bedhead reassures patients that calls have been registered, and for those prone to wander, door monitoring points and portable movement detectors can provide added protection.

A priceless asset

Quantec’s unparalleled reliability and feature-rich devices will combine to make your premises more cost-efficient and allow you to provide the highest standards of modern patient care. The system exceeds current registration requirements in all areas with features such as staff presence, call accept and automatic call divert all provided as standard. From large NHS trusts to renowned nursing home groups, Quantec is specified by some of the UK’s most prestigious care providers, all of whom are benefiting from the UK’s most versatile call system.

Nurse Call

Disabled Refuge Systems

Disabled refuge alarm systems are designed to provide robust fire resistant audio communication between the Fire Service or any person involved with the rescue operation, and wheelchair-bound persons who may be trapped on upper floor levels in a fire situation.

The system comprises a main control station with integral telephone and outstations which are strategically positioned within each refuge area – typically adjacent to staircases on upper floor levels.

During an evacuation, wheelchair users can call for assistance from the nearest available outstation. At the main control unit, the person responding can identify the respective outstation location via the LCD readout and communicate with the caller, determining where assistance is required the most, and assuring the caller that assistance is on it`s way.

Disabled refuge alarm systems are normally required to satisfy Building and Disability Discrimination Act regulations in new buildings.

Multisensor Smoke Heat Detectors

Multi-sensor Smoke & Heat Detectors

Multi-sensor Detectors are a combined optical smoke and heat detector allowing flexibility in the detection of fires. Using the combined detection method a fire condition can be confirmed if both heat and smoke sensors operate.

These Detectors are general purpose detectors which respond well to a wide range of fires. In some cases they can be mode selected for hours of occupation. Therefore, offering a even greater level of flexibility.

It is important to understand that not all fires are the same. Some, for example start off slow and smouldering. This type of fire produces more smoke and relatively little flame at first; this would be picked up by a Smoke Alarm but not so easily by a Heat Alarm. On the other hand, fast flaming fires with a corresponding fast rise in temperature would probably set off a Heat Alarm before a Smoke Alarm. By combining the two, a Multi-Sensor offers the best – and crucially the fastest – possible warning if there is a fire.

In a fire, every second counts and it’s vital to give people the earliest possible warning and the greatest time in which to escape. Therefore, the benefits to a multi-sensor system are obvious.

Contact us today to find out more about Multi-sensor Smoke & Heat Detectors

Fire Extinguisher Theft and Tamper Protection

In a fire, seconds count.  If you’re going to be able to safely tackle the fire before it grows to an uncontrollable blaze, you don’t have a second to waste.

That’s why the risk of extinguishers being accidentally damaged, tampered with, stolen or even just moved to the wrong location can have such dangerous implications.  However, we’ve got some simple and inexpensive solutions to this problem.

Fire Extinguisher Covers

These simple and effective covers aren’t just excellent for protecting your extinguisher from the environment it’s located in.  They are a brilliant deterrent to prevent your fire extinguisher from being tampered with.

Fire Extinguisher Cabinets

A robust cabinet will protect your extinguisher from all the abuse that mother nature, or just the daily hustle of your working environment can throw against it.  They are also an extremely effective deterrent against tampering or being moved for use as a doorstop (usually on a fire door… 🙁 ).

If required, these cabinets can be fitted with an alarm to protect against intentional theft or vandalism.

For high-profile applications, our recessed cabinets are a perfect solution whilst complementing your decor.

Fire Extinguisher Alarms

This simple solution ensures that your fire extinguisher will never get moved except in an emergency!  When the extinguisher is removed, the alarm unit will trigger a ear piercing alarm which will make any would-be fire extinguisher walker think twice!

D-Class Powder Fire Extinguisher

D Class Powder fire extinguishers are used for fighting metal fires. Whether it is an naturally reactive metal like potassium or just waste cuttings and swarf, metal fires are very dangerous and are easily spread by the use of a high pressure extinguisher.

D class powders have a specially formulated extinguishant to deal with the reactive properties of metal fires, and are easily distinguished by the Low Velocity Applicator – meaning that the powder gently falls onto the fire, while the operator stands at a safe distance.

M28 Powder is suitable for use on all metal fires except lithium, while L2 Powder can be used on all metal fires including lithium.

Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher

Wet Chemical fire extinguishers are a special innovation, specifically designed for the food/catering industry to deal with fat fires.

Although many people assume that fat fires can be tacked with water, the reality is very different – when the superheated fat comes into contact with cold water it produces a dramatic reaction – boiling so violently that the air is filled with burning fat particles. This can have serious effects on the user, causing terrible burns and sometimes even death.

When the wet chemical substance comes into contact with burning fat it forms a soap-like substance, creating a layer between the oil and the oxygen supply, restricting the release of flammable vapours. The extinguishant also cools the fat.