Why was a long overdue CWYM fire drill delayed for over five months, given that 2 fires had taken place recently at the same College site?

(Post made at 1609 BST UK time on 12 Jul 2017 in a personal capacity.  Please see here for important background and disclosure of interests).

A fire drill took place at the Centre for Wessex Young Musicians (CWYM) on Saturday 24 June 2017. To the best of my knowledge this was the first fire drill at CWYM for at least 12 years.

Jacqui Kitcher (JK, Director of Learning, Creative Industries, and line manager of the CWYM Director) had informed me (quite rightly) and the other SWYM Committee members in early January 2017 that a fire drill would take place during the spring term, as one was overdue.  I therefore expected one to take place in the spring term, but:

  1. No drill took place that term (January to March)
  2. The summer term started on Saturday 22 April, yet no fire drill happened until over two months later, on Saturday 24 June (shortly after I put in a Freedom of Information request about this). 

Two fires had recently happened at the same site

Two fires had taken place at the same site in recent months (the College has 3 sites, and the CWYM rehearsals take place within the North Road site):

“The Principal reported that there had been two fires reported at the North Road site, both had been dealt with efficiently by college staff and the emergency services.” (Source: Bournemouth and Poole College Board meeting minutes of meeting of 15 Dec 2016, Principal’s Report. It is unclear what period the Principal’s Report covered – several meetings during 2016 included this item on the agenda. The October minutes also included a Principal’s Report, so it appears as if the 2 fires at the North Road site took place during the period October to December 2016.  Indeed one took place on 20 October, see here).

This is currently the subject of an internal review (i.e. a complaint) about a Freedom of Information response from the College. Note the College’s misleading response stating that fire drills had been held termly, whereas to my knowledge the College had held no fire drills for CWYM for a very long time.  (Having fire drills on a termly basis during weekdays is of no use in helping CWYM children/parents and staff prepare for the event of a fire, since CWYM rehearsals take place on Saturdays).

Notice also that the College delayed holding a fire drill, not only during the spring term (“due to the busy performance schedule of the WYO and on two separate occasions as a result of illness to the person who conducts the fire drills”) but during the summer term too.  The WYO had no performances during the summer term apart from 30 April (not a performance as such, but a National Partnership Award day with Birmingham Conservatoire) and 1 July, yet the College/CWYM didn’t hold a fire drill until the week before the end of term, despite 2 fires having recently occurred at the same site.

If I had not put in a Freedom of Information Request on 15 June, how much longer would the College have waited to hold a fire drill?

In the light of the Grenfell disaster it seems very irresponsible in my opinion to have delayed holding a fire drill until 24 June, five months after JK said that one should be held because it was overdue.

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