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News - November/December 2017

Fire chiefs call for sprinklers in all new English schools

Fire chiefs call for sprinklers in all new English schools

The National Fire Chiefs Council is calling for all new school builds or refurbishments to have sprinklers fitted - a policy that is mandatory in Scotland and Wales. Figures show the proportion of new schools built with sprinklers had dropped from about 70% a decade ago to a third last year - and overall, in England and Wales, just 5% of schools have sprinklers.

The NFCC part commissioned independent analysis earlier this year which looked at more than 2,000 incidents attended by UK fire services in sprinkler-protected buildings. It found that sprinkler systems correctly operated on at least 94% of the fires and controlled or extinguished 99% of those fires.

NFCC believes if sprinklers were considered at the design stage of new build or refurbishment of existing buildings, costs could be kept to a minimum.

Each year, more than 1,300 schools in the UK suffer fires large enough to be attended by fire and rescue services; 56% per cent of these are classed as non-accidental. According to government estimates (DCLG), the average cost of school fires between 2000 and 2004 was £58 million per year.

Statistically there is one in 20 chance of a school having a fire. By engaging with designers and architects, NFCC believes schools could be designed to incorporate a fire safety system as standard.

The NFCC says it “strongly believes that sprinklers are the most effective way to ensure that fires are suppressed - or even extinguished - before the fire service can arrive.”

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