Early in the morning of January 3rd 2017 fire crews from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service attended a serious fire at the Avenue Primary School in Warminster, Wiltshire. On arrival crews found a well-developed fire within a temporary classroom block.
Fire crews from Warminster attended supported by fire engines from Westbury and Frome. Sadly, the fire damage was extensive but crews were able to stop the spread of fire to the nearby main school buildings. The fire service was called at 03:19 hours and remained on site for six hours damping down and investigating the scene of the fire. The school was closed for the day and alternative arrangements will now need to be made for 60 students following the Christmas break.
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service have campaigned for schools to be fitted with sprinklers. Chairman of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority, Cllr Rebecca Knox, said: Fires in schools are really disruptive to children’s education, they are very distressing for them, their teachers and their families due to the uncertainty that arises as a result. School closures, longer travelling times, disruption of classes and after school activities, inadequate facilities and of course the potential for key classwork to be destroyed. Sprinklers can really help avoid this, against the societal costs of loss of jobs, buildings and cost of replacement when compared to a sprinkler system which has roughly the same costs as carpeting a school. Nationally over 635 fires occur in schools each year in the UK, more than one a day.
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “In Dorset and Wiltshire, we know only too well how devastating school fires can be and how difficult they can be to deal with, not only for firefighters but also short and long term for the children, teachers and their families. Sprinklers within a school building limit the spread and growth of fire and allow for quick evacuation of children and staff. Our Fire Safety team will now be working with the school to offer advice and ensure pupils and buildings are safe from fire.