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London firefighters find troubling trend of schools with no sprinklers

London Fire Brigade data shows that none of the 57 schools or colleges in the capital that had fires were fitted with automatic fire suppression systems

FIREFIGHTERS in London have not attended a single school or college fire this year where sprinklers were fitted, shocking figures revealed today.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) data, from this year up until July 25, shows that none of the 57 educational establishments in the capital that had fires were fitted with automatic fire suppression systems.

The data also shows that only 13 of the 565 school fires attended between 2014 and July this year were at institutions with the safety systems installed.

LFB says sprinklers should be mandatory in all new schools and that older institutions should be retrofitted with them during refurbishments over the summer holidays.

LFB deputy assistant commissioner for fire safety Charlie Pugsley said that sprinklers save lives and protect property.

He said millions of pounds were wasted every year on repairing fire damage in London’s schools where fires could have been prevented.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “Sprinklers can assist in the control of a fire in its early stages, limiting damage and giving occupants additional time to escape, as well as reducing the risks faced by firefighters attending the incident.

“After a decade of austerity the fire and rescue service is hanging by a thread. With slowing response times and massive cuts to firefighter jobs, a sprinkler system could make the crucial difference, saving a school from complete destruction.

“The government are trying to build schools on the cheap and the cost could be the complete disruption of our children’s education.”

GMB union described the figures as “shocking” and is urging its members to contact MPs and tell them they want action on sprinklers.

GMB regional officer Mick Lancaster said: “Unfortunately, like most health and safety concerns raised in the UK, action isn’t taken until a disaster happens — when people have been seriously injured or lost their lives.

“Taking a proactive approach and ensuring all schools are fitted with sprinklers will not only protect the children but those who work in schools, many of which are GMB members.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman said schools are fundamentally safe places, designed to be evacuated as quickly as possible in the event of a fire. 

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