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Labour Commits to Installing Sprinklers in All New
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[caption id="attachment_15006" align="alignright" width="348"] By: Chris Dixon[/caption]

Labour party officials have said that if Labour were to be elected they would ensure that sprinkler systems are installed in all new schools since only one in three schools refurbished or built since 2010 by the central government currently have them. They claim that this would address a loophole in current legislation that permits a significant amount of schools not to have sprinklers installed.

The Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, told a reporter of The Independent that the amount of £14 billion needed to upgrade schools to a good standard would be allocated by Labour to ensure that schools are safe, including installing life-saving sprinklers and removing flammable and asbestos cladding. She said they also aim to close all loopholes that allow developers to get away with not complying with these basic safety minimums in new schools. She said that parents want a lot for their children, but most of all they want safety at schools and nothing is more important than that.
Worrying Figures Disclosed by Schools Minister
In response to a parliamentary question the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, revealed that only 28% (74) of the 260 schools commissioned by the DfE under Phase I of the Priority School Building Programme have, or plan to have, sprinkler systems installed. This means that 72% of the schools on the programme that aims to rebuild or refurbish school buildings in the most dreadful conditions across the country will not have sprinkler systems. Whether schools choose to, independently, get in contact with sprinkler suppliers such as TPT Fire is a different matter but this should really be made mandatory by the government.

In the United Kingdom sprinklers in schools are currently mandatory in Scotland and Wales but not in Northern Ireland or England, despite warnings from fire chiefs to the government that they risk “playing with children’s lives”. The fire department has called for all new and refurbished school buildings to have sprinklers installed.

The Fire Brigades Union said the attitude of the government towards fire safety in schools was incomprehensible and "shockingly cavalier". Unions have also lashed out at the decision to have the Selsey Academy in West Sussex rebuilt without sprinklers, particularly as a fire almost completely destroyed it in 2016.
The DfE's Stance on Sprinkler Systems in Schools
A Department for Educations spokesman said that there are a number of fire protection measures in place at schools and additional checks are carried out when new schools are being designed. Where it is deemed necessary to keep children safe, sprinklers must be installed.

After the Grenfell tragedy, the DfE contacted all groups responsible for school safety and instructed them to carry out checks in order to identify school buildings that were at risk and required further investigation. Two schools have been identified with ACM classing for potential concern and they are working closely with them to ensure that the necessary safety actions are being taken.

The DfE said that all new school buildings are required to be signed off by an independent safety inspector to certify that safety requirements have been met and that the building has been designed to allow occupants to escape safely in the event of a fire.
The Response by Labour
Labour says that it plans to alter existing regulations that contain a presumption that “new school buildings should have sprinklers installed except where they are considered to be low risk” and make it compulsory for new schools to have sprinklers installed.

Mr Gibb said that a further 277 schools are scheduled to be rebuilt under Phase II of the Priority School Building Programme but it was not yet clear which of these would require sprinklers as the project was still in the early design stage.

Further concerns raised by Labour were that, based on a January 2015 report by the government claiming that 7,831 education blocks had been built before 1919, ministers were neglecting existing ‘school seats’ and utilising the funds on the Free Schools Programme instead of maintaining and improving existing school buildings.

Latest Activity: Apr 19, 2018 at 6:47 AM

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