Safety in Schools – The Role of Public Address and Voice Alarm

Safety in Schools – The Role of Public Address and Voice Alarm

Recent years have brought many changes to the education sector in terms of child protection and safety, even before covid we were seeing transformations in the way schools manage pupil movement, access to their properties and delivering instruction by voice messaging.

Statistics state that the average number of pupils in schools range from approx. 950 in a state secondary to approx. 250 in primary, with the level of staffing required, this creates a large body of people to control or contain in an emergency.

So, let’s think about how the structure of teaching different ages affects managing incidents and emergencies.  Children in primary school tend to have one or two main teachers supported by classroom assistants and have the majority of classes in the same room.  They still must have an excellent and complex evacuation plan and system in place to facilitate an incident or emergency but are probably less likely to need a complex voice alarm system considering the age of the children that need to follow instruction.  Intercom is very important as they must be able to communicate between classes without leaving the room especially with the guidelines to stay put and lockdown if necessary.

Secondary schools also need to be able to communicate effectively between rooms and with external agencies. However, their day-to-day needs to communicate across multi spaces is more complex especially as the students have more freedom.  Generally, they arrive and leave under their own steam.   They tend to swop classes for each lesson which means there is a huge scale of movement around the school complex and systems will need to be able to provide more comprehensive guidance and messaging to ensure safety.

Sadly, something that has also become paramount in school safety when designing a public address/voice alarm system is the ability to lockdown. Incidents need to be contained where possible and they must have the ability to be able to communicate both internally and externally to control the situation.

TOA have long been at the forefront of providing safety solutions for schools. Our product ranges in intercom, public address and voice alarm are ideal for these multi-complex sites connecting school office, to gym, to classrooms in an easily operated system.  The ability to selectively message zones from a central control point also helps incident management where emergency services can manage or contain the need to evacuate in the safest order.

When designing a life safety system, we need as much information as possible from our clients to provide the best advice and design the safest systems that are fit for purpose following our principles below:

  1. Should be able to deliver daily communication and be multi-purpose to allow for announcements such as lessons changes.
  2. In the event of an incident should allow for ease of alarm trigger from room-based call stations saving valuable time.
  3. Simple for users allowing verification of the situation via intercom to alert point.
  4. Call responsive with automatic call forwarding if the first point of contact is not available.
  5. Allows for speed of communication so that actions can be initiated immediately.
  6. Easy to issue instructions so that:
    1. Information can be communicated securely.
    2. Announcements or warning text can be triggered to zones by voice alarm system.
    3. Provide excellent intelligibility and clarity of sound.
  7. Can connect emergency responders directly to the incident area and management points.
  8. Provides completely integrated product solutions allowing for speedy crisis resolution and maximum safety.
  9. Provides bespoke pre-recorded messaging and live voice announcements.

At TOA we take the installation of life safety systems very seriously.  We carry out many school projects. As manufacturers of public address/voice alarm systems we work with clients to plan and execute the best life safety solutions. As Experts in PA/VA we can advise the correct options for each project. From site survey to quotation to commissioning and hand-over we can offer full system design from one manufacturer.

We have recently designed and built rack systems for two schools to provide one with both public address/voice alarm and the other with an emergency PA system.