cardinalnewmanA school in Gateshead has been saved from being destroyed by a fire thanks to its sprinkler suppression systems.

The fire at Cardinal Hume Catholic School in Wrekenton, Gateshead started in an electrical IT server cupboard on the first floor of the school on 22 August.

A child passing by the school spotted smoke issuing from the building ventilation system and called the fire and rescue service and within minutes three fire appliances arrived. An Operational Support Unit from Gateshead Community Fire Station also attended to assist with the clean up following the fire.

Area Manager Kevin Hepple, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This is an excellent example of the huge benefits sprinklers bring.

"The images of the school fire in Leyland were really shocking and showed how quickly a fire can spread and how much damage can be caused, not only to the building but to the school children's education and community as a whole. Thankfully due to the sprinkler system in Cardinal Hume this didn't happen here."

Sprinklers significantly reduced impact of fire
The school was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Firefighters had to break entry into the building where the fire was. The fire caused significant damage to the IT server equipment but was stopped from spreading further due to the school's sprinkler system.

Head Teacher at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Mr Hurn, said: "There is no doubt that having the sprinkler suppression system has significantly reduced the impact of the fire. The fire in the IT server cupboard could easily have spread to other items nearby and the rest of the school.

"The consequences of which are unthinkable - not only would it have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage but it would have caused real difficulties for the children in terms of delivering their education and the local community of which we are a part.

"Fire safety is something you take for granted when you don't need it, but when you do it is invaluable - it's saved our school, the continuity of education of our pupils, workplace for our staff and a local community venue."