Laptop charging stations in schools – where should you keep them?

Jon Ward 2023

Jon Ward
Consultant, Assurity Consulting
15th March 2024

Laptop charging stations are becoming a more common occurrence due to the obvious practical advantages. These are often stored at the back of classrooms or in common rooms. These locations are great as they do not pose an increased risk to those trying to evacuate a building in an emergency.

However, there is also a trend of storing laptop charging stations along escape routes, at the bottom of escape staircases and close to final fire exits. Whilst these locations may offer a practical solution for those accessing these charging stations between lessons, they also pose a risk to those needing to escape in an emergency. Whilst many of these laptop charging products are marked as fire resistant, the way that they are commonly used within schools means that the doors to the charging stations are infrequently kept closed. This is mainly due to ease of access for pupils and staff, but also because users are not aware of the important fire-resistant property, I can imagine trying to get teenagers to always close a cabinet door could be extremely challenging! I have even observed examples where electrical devices are left on top of the cabinets, rather than held within.

Laptop charging stations are often left unattended. If an electrical malfunction were to occur, igniting the lithium-ion battery of one of the laptops being charged, there is the risk of multiple devices further igniting. We have all seen in the news the devasting fires caused by lithium-ion battery products, such as electric cars, e-bikes and e-scooters and the difficulty in fighting such fires.  

Article 14 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that all emergency routes and exits should be kept clear of obstructions and sources of ignition. Laptop charging stations offer both combustible materials and an ignition source. By storing lithium-ion battery products along escape routes, these charging stations are potentially removing an escape route option, potentially hindering the timely and safe evacuation of all occupants. Therefore, careful consideration on the correct use of charging stations and the right storage location is vitally important. If you need any support with your fire safety management, please get in touch.