The London Fire Commissioner has made additional calls for schools in the capital – and indeed, elsewhere in the UK – to prioritise fire safety and make sure that sprinklers are installed.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Dany Cotton explained that fires breaking out in schools cause huge disruption to students, with school clubs cancelled and costly repair bills incurred. Yet, if you include sprinklers at the design stage of a school, they’re about one per cent of the entire build cost.
Since the London Fire Brigade (LFB) recommended that sprinklers be installed on site last year, just four new and refurbished schools took such decisive action. But fire does pose a serious risk to schools – figures from the Brigade highlight that between 2009 and July 2017, there were 759 fires in schools throughout London… and just 15 of these had sprinklers installed.
Fire crews are apparently called to over 80 fires each yearly at London schools and in the majority of cases, no sprinklers can be found on site… with the outcome resulting in the financial impact of repairing damage from fire, as well as that caused by fire crew hoses. Interestingly, in Scotland and Wales sprinklers are mandatory in schools.
In September of this year, the London Fire Brigade also called for sprinklers to be installed in residential high rise buildings as standard, as well as in new school builds.
Mr Cotton said at the time: “The tragic fire at Grenfell has thrown fire safety into the spotlight and while we are not pre-empting the findings of the Inquiry, now is the time to remind government of life-saving recommendations we have been making for years. We are calling for residential tower blocks to be retrofitted with sprinklers and they should be mandatory in all new school builds and major refurbishments.
“Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and raises the alarm. They save lives and protect property and they are especially important where there are vulnerable residents who would find it difficult to escape, like those with mobility problems. My priority is to save lives but I can also make an economic case for sprinklers. It costs around £1,500 to £2,500 to retrofit a flat, while the cost of refurbishing a one-bedroom flat after a fire is about £77,000.”
It’s worth noting that the majority of fires are in fact preventable, so while you should certainly consider having sprinklers installed on site, you should also make sure you adopt the right behaviours and procedures at work to prevent fires from starting in the first place.
Carry out fire safety risk assessments regularly and keep your records up to date. Based on your findings, you should make sure that adequate and appropriate measures for fire safety are implemented so as to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life if a fire does occur.
If you need help with your disaster recovery plans, fire risk assessments and fire prevention strategy, get in touch with us today.