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Fire brigade warns: Islington schools ‘should have sprinklers’

After a number of recent call-outs to schools across the borough, fire chiefs say safety measure should be made mandatory

09 August, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

THE London Fire Brigade has called on schools to have sprinkler systems fitted after a series of call-outs.

Fire crews have this year attended incidents at Bright Horizons Floral Place Nursery, Little Angels Day Nursery, City of London Academy Highbury Grove, North Islington Nursery School and N4 Library, part of the City and Islington College building in Blackstock Road.

None of the sites has had sprinklers fitted, said the brigade, which is calling for sprinklers to be mandatory in all new schools and for all schools to be retrofitted with sprinklers during major refurbishments.

Charlie Pugsley, a deputy assistant commissioner with the brigade, said: “It is shocking that we have been campaigning for a number of years to make sprinklers mandatory in new schools and retrofitted during major refurbishments and yet this year every school fire we have been called to has had no sprinklers fitted.”

Firefighters say sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage.

Mr Pugsley said: “Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and can raise the alarm.

“Sprinklers save lives and protect property. Millions of pounds are wasted every year repairing fire damage in London’s schools when sprinklers could have prevented the spread of fire.”

He added: “This is not just about saving money; when a school is closed it disrupts a child’s education, impacts on the local community and affects parents by closing breakfast and after-school clubs.

“The easiest time to fit sprinklers is when schools are being built or refurbished. I find it staggering that such a simple safety measure is so ­easily omitted from the designs.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “The safety of pupils and staff in our schools is paramount.

“Schools are fundamentally safe places and are designed to be evacuated as quickly as ­pos­sible.

“All schools are required to have an up-to-date fire risk assessment and to conduct regular fire drills.

“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.”

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