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London Fire Brigade warns schools skipping fire sprinkler installation

couch on fire indoors
The London Fire Brigade reports that 6 out of 10 schools weren't planning to install fire sprinklers

Almost two thirds of new or refurbished schools planned for the capital have not been built with potentially life saving sprinklers installed, the London Fire Brigade warns.

This is despite Government guidelines introduced three years ago recommending they should be fitted. Sprinklers stop fire from spreading and greatly reduce the chance of death or serious injury, says the Brigade. Fire chiefs are consulted on the plans for newly built or refurbished schools in the capital and according to the Brigade’s figures, 6 out of 10 schools that have proposed building work in the last three years were not going to install sprinklers.

The figures are 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.

Every year, one in eight schools suffers a serious arson attack. The cost of school fires is around £65million 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.

Sprinklers can also significantly reduce the cost of repairing damage caused by a fire. If they are factored in at the design stage of a building or the refurbishment of an existing building, costs can be kept as low as one per cent of the original construction costs.

The guidelines appear in a new booklet called “Think Sprinkler”. Over coming months, the Brigade will be sending copies of the booklet to architects, building managers, care home owners and social landlords. This will promote the benefits of sprinklers and encourage their installation.

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." 

“A fire that destroys a school or care home devastates the local community. Children are left to learn in temporary classrooms and the elderly lose their home. Owners and developers have a responsibility to protect people in the places where they live and work.” 

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