INVESTIGATION: Only 1 in 3 new schools has sprinklers – and ‘expectation’ to fit them due to be removed from DfE policy

The proportion of new schools being built with fire-preventing sprinklers has halved to just 35 per cent since 2010, prompting fresh concerns over pupil safety following the Grenfell Tower blaze.

The figure could also decrease further as the government plans to water down the wording of its school fire safety guidance by suggesting sprinkler systems are no longer expected – a move lambasted by fire officers and education unions.

But the Department for Education (DfE) denies the rewording changes the policy, it only clarifies it.

Over 50 people died last week after a huge fire erupted at Grenfell Tower – a 24-storey housing block in west London.

After the blaze, Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, tweeted that she warned the government last year of the dangers of removing an “expectation” to fit sprinklers in all new schools, and that they “should be fitted in housing too”.

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  1. The statement in the proposed 2016 version of BB100 is correct in that sprinklers are not a requirement(for life safety). The former version of BB100 also did not make them a requirement but stressed the ‘expectation’ that all but the lowest risk should be protected.

    Before 2010 the level of take up of sprinklers in new schools was around 70% and this, by the governments own submission has dropped to about 35%. Thankfully many local authorities and school managers have decided to fit sprinklers and they certainly protect buildings and pupils from fire, as evidenced in the number of sprinkler’saves’ that have recorded in schools.

    The crazy thing for me is that wheras the Welsh and Scottish administrations have taken a lead in this area and requires sprinklers in new schools, our government refuses to give even tacit acknowledgement to the benefit of sprinklers. Where is the leadership I ask myself?

    Hopefully, one day soon, common sense may be able to penetrate, and influence, those who are so intransigent in their opposition to this sensible and wholly effective fire protection measure.

  2. With the recent Fire in Grenfell, and the issues that will flow form this, it is hopefully back on the Governments agenda to cancel the change and fit sprinklers into schools, hospitals, public buildings and social housing.

    The UK and the World has many examples of sprinklers success – if installed by an accredited and approved company work and saves lives, jobs, assets, the environment 9 no one has raised this question on Grenfell all the toxic gases and now contaminated water form the fire fighting)

    Not one Governments are to blame as its gone on for years this decline in fire engineering development. The Government that starts to put it right will be the one to praise and support.