The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) recommended the compulsory installation of fire sprinkler systems at new and refurbished schools in the UK, as around 700 fire-related incidents take place in England each year.
Fire sprinklers have become a must for schools in Scotland and Wales, yet these are not mandatory for those in England and Northern Ireland.
The NFCC urged the mandatory fitting of fire sprinklers after the Grenfell Tower incident in London in June, prompting a stricter inspection of safety resources at public school buildings. This contrasted the Department of Education’s draft guidance in 2016, when it concurred that buildings may no longer need “the installation of fire sprinkler suppression systems in school buildings for life safety.”
The plan has been scrapped since the Grenfell incident, yet London Fire Brigade (LFB) Commissioner Dany Cotton believed it was surprising for the department to undermine such safety feature. Fire sprinklers should not be mandatory only when a large school fire convinces officials to make them mandatory, according to Cotton. Like outdoor canopies for schools, these systems serve a certain purpose.
Fire sprinklers have only been present at less than a third of 260 schools built since 2014, according to the NFCC. The need for fire safety awareness remains important, especially as fire incidents take place in more than 1,300 buildings in the country each year.
However, many schools are yet to comply with the recommendation. Only four out of 184 new or renovated schools followed the LFB’s advice to install fire sprinklers in 2016, according to Cotton.
The installation of fire sprinklers at British schools serve not just as a safety measure for children, but also a tool to prevent property damages. Do you think schools will be safer if they have fire sprinklers?