Most school fires are started by young people using nearby rubbish and combustible items. Schools are four times more likely to be targeted by fire-setters than all other buildings. However, all schools can take simple, low-cost steps to improve fire safety and reduce likelihood of arson.
1 Keep rubbish bins and skips well away from outside walls
- Lock and secure bins so they can't be moved up against buildings.
- Empty bins and clean up loose rubbish so it can't be used to set fires.
- Lock away all combustibles.
2 Install/increase security lights
- The largest fires are set at night.
- Additional security lights have reduced fires and vandalism in British schools.
3 Watch for an increase in vandalism and graffiti
- Consider increasing night security patrols.
- Be extra vigilant with rubbish clearance.
- Increase visibility around the school buildings by cutting back vegetation to reduce fire risk and hiding places.
4 Take action when you see suspicious behaviour
Educate all children about the consequences of fire.
- Confront fire-setting behaviour and contact the free New Zealand Fire Service Fire Awareness Intervention Programme (FAIP) 0800 FIREINFO for further advice. This programme has a 98% success rate* in ending fire-setting behaviour and can be directed at known fire-setters or to school groups when it is not known who is lighting the fires.
- Record all information about fire-lighting incidents for possible use by FAIP/Fire Service.
5 Involve the community
- Ask neighbours and parents to keep an eye on the school and report any fires and serious vandalism to the police.