LFB criticises ‘shocking’ school sprinkler statistics
LONDON FIRE Brigade (LFB) has revealed that all 57 of the city’s schools that have suffered fires this year had no sprinklers fitted.
In its release, LFB stated that the ‘shocking’ figures found that none of the 57 schools that have suffered fires in London this year had automatic fire suppression systems fitted, and pointed out that it had ‘long been calling’ for mandatory sprinkler installations in all new school builds, as well as for all schools to be retrofitted with sprinklers ‘during major refurbishment’.
It pointed out that sprinklers are ‘especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage’, and cited the recent 10 year anniversary of the ‘devastating’ fire at the Thomas Fairchild School in Hoxton. This had required 15 appliances and over 100 firefighters to spend 10 hours extinguishing the blaze, with the school closed for ‘almost three years’ for rebuilding, forcing all 300 pupils to attend school at two different locations.
LFB also noted that in all school fires that it has attended since 2014, there have only been 13 cases in which schools had sprinklers fitted. Charlie Pugsley, LFB’s deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety, commented: ‘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.’
‘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.’