London Fire Brigade attended 57 fires in schools in the capital this year to date, and the figures released by the Brigade show that not a single school had an automatic fire suppression system (AFSS) fitted.
The Brigade has long been calling for sprinklers to become a mandatory requirement in schools. In particular, they want sprinklers to be mandatory in all new school builds and for all schools to be retrofitted with sprinklers during major refurbishment. Sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage.
Charlie Pugsley, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said, “It is shocking that we have been campaigning for a number of years to make sprinklers mandatory in new schools and retrofitted during major refurbishments and yet this year, every school fire we have been called to has had no sprinklers fitted. Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and can raise the alarm. Sprinklers save lives and protect property. Millions of pounds are wasted every year repairing fire damage in London’s schools when sprinklers could have prevented the spread of fire. This is not just about saving money; when a school is closed it disrupts a child’s education, impacts on the local community and affects parents by closing breakfast and after school clubs.”
We have recently passed the ten year anniversary of a devastating fire at Thomas Fairchild School in Napier Grove, Hoxton. At the height of the incident, 15 fire engines and more than 100 firefighters attended the scene and crews remained at the school for more than 10 hours.
The school was closed for almost three years after the fire while it was rebuilt and the school’s 300 pupils were schooled at two different locations.
Charlie Pugsley added, “The easiest time is to fit sprinklers when schools are being built or refurbished. I find it staggering that such a simple safety measure is so easily omitted from the designs.”
In all school fires attended by London Fire Brigade since 2014, there have only been 13 cases where sprinklers have been fitted.
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