School Fires Up Sharply in London

The London Fire Brigade reports they increased by 34 percent in 2017 alone.

The London Fire Brigade has renewed its call for fire sprinklers to become mandatory in the capital city's new schools. The brigade reported that school fires in London have increased by 34 percent last year alone.

The brigade has campaigned for years to make sprinklers mandatory in new schools and during major renovations. Sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage, according to its news release announcing the new data.

There were a total of 90 fires in preschools, nurseries, primary schools, and secondary schools in 2017, up from 67 during 2016. The brigade's Fire Facts report, also released last week, showed fires at educational buildings, including colleges and universities, increased from 20 to 28 in the same period, and that 184 London schools "ignored the Brigade's advice to have sprinklers fitted as part of their refurbishment or building plans, despite that being the most cost effective time to fit water suppression systems." That is the number of schools that did not install sprinklers during construction or renovations from July 11, 2016, to June 21, 2017.

"The government should do their homework and realize that millions of pounds are wasted every year repairing fire damage in London's schools when sprinklers could have prevented the spread of fire," said London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton. "This is not just about saving money; when a school is closed, it disrupts a child's education and affects parents by closing breakfast and after school clubs. Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire, and raises the alarm. They save lives and protect property. While I ultimately want all schools to have sprinklers, the easiest time is to fit them are when schools are being built or refurbished, and I find it staggering that such a simple safety measure is so easily omitted from the designs."

The brigade noted that its call for action on sprinklers came during the anniversaries of two major fires at educational establishments in London. On July 29, 2002, 20 fire engines were called to a large fire at a college in Ealing Green, Ealing; the second fire on July 30, 2009, destroyed most of a school in Napier Grove, Hoxton.

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