London Fire Brigade

One school fire every day of term prompts sprinklers call

10 January 2012

New figures released by London Fire Brigade show that last year, there was one fire every three days in the capital’s schools, colleges and nurseries -  the equivalent of one fire for nearly every school day.

Fire chiefs say these statistics should serve as a stark reminder of why sprinklers need to be installed in education buildings.

Last  year there were 36 arson attacks on London’s schools, colleges and nursery buildings and a further 113 accidental fires. Nationally every year, one in eight schools suffers a serious arson attack and the cost of school fires is around £65 million, with London accounting for over a third of that figure.

As well as the huge financial cost, a fire that destroys a school or college causes massive disruption to students, teachers and families and can have a devastating effect on the wider community and the capital’s economy.

Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s Community Safety Committee, Cllr Susan Hall, said:

“The number and regularity of school fires we attend is yet more evidence, if any were needed, that builders, developers, local authorities, governing bodies and other private providers must stop ignoring the huge benefits of sprinklers.

“As well as making sure the children in their care are protected, those responsible for our schools should recognise that sprinklers can dramatically reduce damage by stopping fires from spreading so quickly. This would help to protect the significant amount of public money invested in our school buildings.”

Last year London Fire Brigade revealed that almost two thirds of new or refurbished schools planned for the capital are still not being built with potentially life saving sprinklers installed. This is despite Government guidelines introduced three years ago recommending that, in most cases, they should be fitted.

Fire chiefs are consulted on plans for new schools and projects to refurbish existing ones, and according to the Brigade’s own figures, six out of ten schools that have proposed building work in the last three years were not going to install sprinklers.

Notes to editors

• London Fire Brigade has published guidance encouraging builders and developers to install sprinklers in schools, residential care homes, social housing and commercial premises. The booklet called “Think Sprinkler” has been sent to architects, building managers, care home owners and social landlords

• For more information visit our Sprinklers page.

• Cost figures for school fires come from the LGA research report “the impact of school fires, a study of the wider economic and social impacts on schools and the local community”

• The Brigade’ s figures are based on there being on average 190 school days each year .