Bedfordshire and Luton Fire and Rescue Service (BLFRS) has won a national award for its ground breaking work in reducing school fires by 75%.
The Association of Building Engineers Fire Safety Awards 2010 acknowledges the work carried out by BLFRS in promoting the fitting of sprinklers in schools. In particular the judges praised the partnership work with the three unitary authorities who helped provide valuable data that led to BLFRS in conjunction with Beds Police to assess the real risk of arson in schools. That activity resulted in the creation of the School Crime and Arson Risk Evaluation (SCARE) project and a Memorandum of Understanding supporting the installation of sprinklers in new schools.
Representatives of all the organisations involved were invited to an awards ceremony in London at the Docklands Hilton Hotel. Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller said: "This is an excellent demonstration of how an effective partnership can deliver significant results."
The lessons learnt during the project are being shared with fire and rescue services across the UK. Nationally there are more than 1,300 school fires every year - with 7% of them being attributed to arson. These attacks and damage result in a huge cost in terms of the damage and disruption to schools and the wider community.
Beds Police Detective Sgt David Quamby said: "Since targeting those schools most at risk we have seen a significant fall in arson attacks and other reported crimes on school sites. We have worked closely with our colleagues in the Fire Service and local councils to improve security at schools and this has helped reduce theft, criminal damage and burglary there. The Police rely on the assistance of our partners and the community to help reduce crime and such partnership preventative work is always an excellent use of our resources."