Call for South Yorkshire schools to install sprinklers after 50 blazes in two years

Fire at Edlington School in 2009.
Fire at Edlington School in 2009.
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FIRE officers are calling on South Yorkshire schools to consider installing sprinkler systems, after attending more than 50 blazes in two years.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue say many of the incidents were deliberately started fires on school grounds, such as bin and grass fires.

Campsmount Technology College, Campsall, after the fire.   Photo by Chris Lawton

Campsmount Technology College, Campsall, after the fire. Photo by Chris Lawton

But other incidents involved school buildings, prompting safety officers to issue their warning.

Technical fire safety manager, Amy Jenkinson, said: “When you consider the huge costs associated with a school fire such as rebuilding, temporary relocation, loss of equipment and pupil’s academic work, it seems like an obvious move to install a sprinkler system, but many schools still don’t. Above everything else, sprinklers give added protection to the pupils and staff at the school, and the firefighters who respond to tackle the fire.”

The fire service was called to 59 incidents at schools between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2015.

Of these, 15 started accidentally whilst 43 were arson and one was an unknown cause.

In 2012 firefighters attended a blaze at the then newly opened Parkwood Academy in the early hours of the morning, but a sprinkler system activated immediately, containing the fire and raising the alarm.

In contrast, a fire at Campsmount school in Doncaster in 2009 caused millions of pounds worth of damage and the entire facility had to be rebuilt. The school did not have sprinklers fitted.

Fire also destroyed Edlington Comprehensive School, which had recently closed, in January 2009.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue has already helped pioneer a drive for sprinklers to be installed in residential properties. In 2011, sprinklers were fitted into a block of flats in Gleadless.