Burning Questions

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Burning Questions

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Within the last week 2 schools have had serious fires.

The Chief Fire Officers Association, The Arson Prevention Bureau, The Local Government Association, National Association of Teachers, The Fire Protection Association, The Fire Brigade Union, British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association and the members of All -Party Parliamentary Fire Safety & Rescue Group as well as The Association of British Insurers plus many other fire and safety professionals and education experts are all asking the Department for Education the same question…

Why has the Department decided to remove from BB100 the EXPECTATION for most new schools to have automatic fire sprinklers installed, as part of its latest consultation.

Another important question is : Why are schoolchildren, teachers, parents and other school employees in England not entitled to the same protection as those in Wales and Scotland? 

Since 2010 it has been mandatory to install sprinklers in all new schools in Scotland and since 2015, recommended in Wales.

Fires in schools

  • Damage  buildings … massive economic and social impact on the local authority and community
  • Remove  a place of learning …as a result children may spend formative years in temporary and poor schooling facilities
  • Destroy years of pupils’ work and sources of reference … the long term psychological effects are acknowledged
  • Destroys potential unrepeatable exam work … potentially destroying children’s futures

Sprinklers in schools protect the buildings by restricting the size of the fire if not extinguishing it all together. 17 schools in the past 18 months have been saved because of the installation of sprinklers.

Also… Why did the Revision of Building Bulletin 100 Fire Safety Design for Schools go out for consultation in the middle of the peak holiday season 5th July to 15th August.

In 2007 Minister of State for Schools with wide cross party support stated that all new schools built will have fire sprinklers installed… the rationale was sprinklers are a valuable tool against the risk of fire and arson and because they significantly reduce the degree of damage cause by fire… What has changed?

The current (2007) version of BB100 clearly acknowledges the devastating impact fires in schools have on pupils and on the local communities they serve and announcements by your predecessor appear to similarly recognise the significant impact of disruption in children's education. The dreadful fire that occurred at The Academy, Selsey on 21 August and the fire at the Southend Academy on 23 August and the extent of the damage that occurred has sadly only served to reinforce these facts.

In a letter to the Department of Education the Fire Sector Federation summed up its feelings “ We see no reason to change the current policy of a risk based approach for the requirement to install sprinklers in schools since experience suggests that this policy is currently working as intended. We therefore urge the Department to reconsider removing the expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with a sprinkler system and to allow the tool kit to do its job. We are genuinely concerned that watering down this wording or removing the expectation altogether, as is currently proposed, will result in few if any schools being fitted with sprinklers in the future, regardless of risk”

For further information or supporting documents please contact

Wendy Otway   BAFSA   Tel : 01795 530111    Email : [email protected]

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