All new schools will have sprinkler systems fitted as standard – if Labour wins the next general election. Just one in three new or refurbished schools, which have been funded by central government, have had sprinklers fitted since 2010. The statistics prompted Labour officials to tell The Independent newspaper that it will make sprinkler systems for schools a priority.
Labour has pledged to close a loophole in regulations that mean most schools in England do not fit sprinklers. Since 2010, only 28 per cent of 260 schools built under the Department for Education’s Priority School Building Programme have been chosen to benefit from sprinkler systems. It is not known how many free schools have sprinklers.
‘Playing with children’s lives’
In Scotland and Wales sprinkler systems are mandatory in schools. Fire chiefs last year warned that the government is “playing with children’s lives”.
Labour has called for all new and refurbished schools to have sprinklers. Unions are also calling for sprinklers. They have pointed to plans to rebuild a school in West Sussex without sprinklers – even though it was gutted by fire two years ago.
£14 billion pledge
Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner said in an interview with The Independent that a Labour government would provide £14bn to bring schools up to a “good standard”.
She said: “Within that, we will put money aside to make sure schools are safe, and to remove asbestos and flammable cladding and fit lifesaving sprinklers. We also want to close the loopholes that let developers get away with anything less in new schools.
“Parents want a lot of things for their kids, but above all they want them to be safe. Nothing is more important than that.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Schools have a range of fire protection measures and new schools undergo an additional check while being designed. Where sprinklers are deemed necessary to keep children safe, they must be installed.
“Since the Grenfell tragedy we have contacted all bodies responsible for safety in schools and instructed them to carry out checks to identify buildings that may require further investigation.”
Water tanks – sprinkler systems for schools
For a range of sprinkler tank options, to ensure a constant supply of water in the event of a fire, visit Nationwide Water Solutions Limited.