London Fire Brigade gives Government bad school report as school fires increase

The Brigade has been campaigning for a number of years to make sprinklers mandatory in new schools and during major refurbishments. Sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage.

There were a total of 90 fires in preschools, nurseries, primary schools and secondary schools in 2017, up from 67 in 2016. The Brigade’s Fire Facts report shows that fires at educational buildings, including colleges and universities, have also increased from 20 to 28 in the same period.

Moreover, last year 184 London schools ignored the Brigade’s advice to have sprinklers fitted as part of their refurbishment or building plans, despite that being the most cost effective time to fit water suppression systems. This figure was the number of schools which did not have sprinklers fitted as part of a refurbishment or building plans covers the period 11th July 2016 – 21st June 2017.

LFB want sprinklers to be mandatory in all new school builds and have been calling for all schools to be retrofitted with sprinklers during major refurbishments for a number of years.

Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner said, “The Government should do their homework and realise that 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 and affects parents by closing breakfast and after school clubs.

“Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm. They save lives and protect property. While I ultimately want all schools to have sprinklers, the easiest time is to fit them are when schools are being built or refurbished and I find it staggering that such a simple safety measure is so easily omitted from the designs.”

The latest call for action on sprinklers in schools comes just after the anniversaries of two major fires at educational establishments in London. On 29th July 2002, 20 fire engines were called to a large fire at a college in Ealing Green, Ealing. Seven years later, on 30th July 2009, most of a school in Napier Grove, Hoxton was destroyed after a fire ripped through it.

Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. For more information on our services, and how we can help, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us