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Debate on use of fire sprinklers in UK schools raised in House of Commons

MPs in the House of Commons have started a debate on the need for fire sprinklers in UK schools
MPs have started a debate on the need for fire sprinklers in UK schools

Questions of compulsory fire sprinkler protection for UK schools debated by MPs

There was a debate on the question of fires in schools in Westminster Hall on 19 May, with much of the discussion taken up by members praising the value of sprinklers, and the need for sprinklers to be included in all new and refurbished schools.

Ian McCartney, MP for Makerfield, initiated the debate, asserting that: "Over the past 20 years, the United Kingdom - whatever party has been in power - has been at the forefront in fighting the dangers of fire and introducing measures of prevention to minimise the risk of death and injury from fires."

"In my view, sprinkler systems in schools are an essential part of that armoury of fire prevention, but despite the efforts of the firefighting community, the insurance industry, teaching unions and the Government's declared public policy of supporting sprinkler systems in schools, of the 30,000 schools in the UK, only just over 200 have sprinkler systems."

He continued: "Every week in the UK, 30 schools are damaged or destroyed by arson attacks, and the number of major school fires has risen by 55 per cent, according to the National Union of Teachers. Costs relating to these fires have risen by more than 170 per cent over the past 10 years, and teaching unions say that the cost of school fires is now equivalent to building 45 new primary schools or employing an extra 3,750 teachers."

"Fifty people are injured in school fires every year. Thankfully, no one has been killed, but, given the number of fires, the number of children and other people involved, and the nature of the fires - an increasing number are started during school hours - it is only a matter of time before a tragedy strikes."

The Minister for Schools and Learners, Jim Knight MP made a commitment to look again at the take up of sprinklers and see what could be done to ensure that DCFS policy is complied with.

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