Only 15% of new schools fitted with sprinklers
The government has been accused of “complacency” when it comes to fire safety, after it was revealed that only 15% of new schools are fitted with sprinklers.
Schools minister Nick Gibb revealed in answer to a question in Parliament by Labour MP and former teacher Stephanie Peacock that 105 of the 673 schools built and open by February were fitted with sprinklers.
The news drew criticism from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU). FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “We’ve made it clear that newly built schools and other high-risk buildings should have sprinkler systems. Sprinklers can assist in the control of a fire in its early stages, limiting damage and giving occupants additional time to escape, as well as reducing the risks faced by firefighters attending the incident.
“After a decade of austerity, the fire and rescue service is hanging by a thread. With slowing response times and massive cuts to firefighter jobs, a sprinkler system could make the crucial difference, saving a school from complete destruction.”
In Scotland and Wales it is mandatory for sprinklers to be fitted in new schools, but not in England.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “All new school buildings must be signed off by an inspector to certify that they meet the requirements of building regulations and where sprinklers are considered necessary, they must be installed."