Fire chiefs demand sprinters to be implemented in all UK schools

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Water outlet of automated fire extinguish system

Fire chiefs have stated that they believe all new and refurbished schools within the UK should have sprinklers fitted.
As it stands, new school buildings in Wales and Scotland have sprinklers as mandatory requirements, however, this doesn’t apply to both England or Northern Ireland, prompting the National Fire Chiefs council to push for change.
Dany Cotton, the London Fire Brigade Commissioner was absolutely livid and directly accused the government of “playing with children’s lives”.
Ever since the Grenfell Tower disaster in June, fire safety in public buildings – such as schools – has been a topic that’s been well and truly under the microscope, especially as there are around 700 school fires a year in England.
In 2016, the Department for Education – who claim the safety of children is their priority – began a consultation on new draft guidance, which had stated in black and white that building regulations no longer needed “the installation of fire sprinkler suppression systems in school buildings for life safety”.
“Therefore,” the DfE added, “[guidelines] no longer include an expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with them.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Ms Cotton was outraged when she saw the draft guidance, and was staggered that it isn’t compulsory, while stressing that she hopes that it doesn’t take a school fire for the government to realise.
“I think it was outrageous,” Cotton said. “I thought, ‘How can we play with children’s lives like that?’ I just do not understand why it wouldn’t be made compulsory and wouldn’t be made a requirement to fit sprinklers in schools at new-build stage.
“And what I don’t want to see is a very large school fire to be the thing that brings about that change.”
Following the Grenfell disaster, the consolation was dropped, which meant that the guidance was never actually changed.
It also states that the DfE’s “expectation that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted”, unless a school is deemed as “low risk” and that as a result, installation “would not be good value for money”.
However, despite this, of the 260 schools build since 2014 under the Schools Building Programme, less than a third of them actually have sprinklers implemented.
To make matters worse, Ms Cotton claimed that the London Fire Brigade has recommended sprinklers in 184 schools – both new or refurbished – in 2016, yet their advice was only taken in four of those cases.
As well as this, the National Fire Chiefs Council said that the percentage proportion of new schools built with sprinklers had gone down from 70% close to a decade ago to just a third last year, while across the whole of England and Wales, only 5% of schools have sprinklers in place.

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