NFCC calls for sprinkler systems to be fitted in all new and refurbished schools

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has again urged the Government to fit sprinklers in all new schools and those undergoing refurbishment. This call forms part of the NFCC’s response to a call for evidence on the ‘Technical Review of Building Bulletin 100: Design for Fire Safety in Schools’ put together with input from building fire safety specialists from across the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services.

The submission highlighted the unacceptable outcome following the 2007 edition of the guidance that the rate of schools being fitted with sprinklers may have fallen from 70% to as low as 15% of new builds, a recent study conducted by the BBC suggests.

Terry McDermott, the NFCC’s lead for sprinklers, called on the Government to acknowledge the failure of the design guide to achieve the expectation that most, if not all, new schools would be fitted with sprinklers.

Loopholes have allowed designers to conveniently interpret the guidance. The NFCC considers that all new schools, as well as those undergoing refurbishment, should have sprinklers fitted.  Currently, England is lagging behind Scotland and Wales in terms of sprinkler inclusion in building design and this situation must be rectified.

Disruption to education

Roy Wilsher, chair of the NFCC, stated: “We have a responsibility in this country to ensure we do everything that we possibly can to make buildings safer for occupants. The increased use of sprinklers in schools is a no-brainer. UK school fires disrupt the education of an estimated 90,000 children and students annually. Not only is ensuring our children’s safety paramount, but schools are important community assets that need to be protected from damage.”

Wilsher went on to state: “The figures associated with fire damage in schools are significant. The Association of British Insurers has reported that the most expensive school fires typically cost around £2.8 million to address. Covering a four-year period, an average of 24 large loss fires occurred every year totalling £67.2 million. The NFCC looks forward to Government re-examining the Building Bulletin 100 guide and making the necessary changes to protect schools.”

In conclusion, Wilsher explained to Risk Xtra: “We’re pleased the Secretary of State for Education is committed – as part of wider work on fire safety across Government – to work with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on joining up the reviews of fire safety guidance. We will continue to hold the Government to account to ensure that we see not only sprinklers fitted in all new and refurbished schools, but also to raise fire engineering standards in UK building design right cross the board.”

*The NFCC’s full response to the call for evidence can be viewed online at: https://www.nationalfirechiefs.org.uk/Consultations

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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