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Thursday, 14 April 2011

Schools 'ignore' active fire protection advice

Around two thirds of new or refurbished schools planned for the capital have not been installed with sprinklers, the London Fire Brigade has warned.

It follows Government guidelines introduced three years ago that recommended that automatic sprinkler systems should be fitted in most new and refurbished schools.

Sprinklers stop fire from spreading and "greatly reduce the chance of death or serious injury", the fire service said.

The figures have been released to coincide with the publication of new guidance from the brigade encouraging builders and developers to install sprinklers in schools, residential care homes, social housing and commercial premises. Called Think Sprinkler, the booklet is to be sent out to architects, building managers, care home owners and social landlords

Fire chiefs are consulted on the plans for newly built or refurbished schools in the capital and, according to the service’s figures, 49 out of 75 schools that have proposed building work in the last three years were not going to install sprinklers.

A spokesman for the service said: “Every year, one in eight schools suffers a serious arson attack. The cost of school fires is around £65 million with London accounting for over a third of the cost.

“As well as having a huge financial impact, these fires cause disruption to students, teachers and families and can have a devastating effect on the wider community.”

Arson figures have been taken from The impact of school fires, a study undertaken by the National Foundation for Educational Research commissioned by Local Government Analysis and Research.
Chairman of London fire and emergency planning authority’s community safety committee, Cllr Susan Hall, said:

“It’s time for building owners and developers to stop playing such a high risk game and gambling that there will never be a fire in their building. For too long architects and developers have ignored the overwhelming benefits of sprinklers in reducing the damage and potential loss of life a fire can cause."

Active fire protection can be an excellent way of addressing fire risks.

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