Fire hit schools did not have sprinklers

Fire hit schools did not have sprinklers

IN BRENT, 29 schools affected by fires in the last decade did not have sprinklers installed, according to London Fire Brigade (LFB).

Kilburn Times reported on the details from LFB, noting that ‘not one’ of the 29 schools affected by fires in Brent in the last 10 years ‘had sprinklers installed at the time’, with LFB renewing its call for sprinklers to be retrofitted in all education buildings in the city, and for installation to be mandatory for all new school builds.

The borough saw a major fire hit St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in September 2015, with over 500 nursery and primary school pupils aged from two to 11 evacuated alongside 65 staff. LFB data found that 29 school fires in Brent had been recorded since 2009, though none so far this year, with the number of school fires London wide have increased from 67 in 2016 to 90 in 2017, including pre schools, nurseries, primary and secondary schools.

Of 707 London schools that LFB dealt with fires at between January 2010 and December 2017, sprinklers were installed in only 14, and the news outlet cited Fire Protection Association data that found the average cost of large school fires had increased from £330,000 per fire in 2009 to £2.8m per fire in 2014.

Dany Cotton, London fire commissioner, stated: ‘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 government should do its homework and realise 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.’

In turn, a Brent Council spokesman added: ‘Brent undertakes a risk assessment for all school building projects that the council manages to determine if sprinkler systems are required, in line with DfE guidelines for fire safety in schools. A new primary school, East Lane Primary, had sprinklers included in the building design. Recent school expansion projects have not included sprinklers following a risk assessment as the expansions were assessed to be “low risk”.’