Edlington school fire 180Fire officers in South Yorkshire are calling on the region’s schools to consider installing sprinkler systems, after attending more than 50 blazes in two years.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue says many of the incidents were deliberately started fires on school grounds, such as bin and grass fires. But other incidents involved school buildings, prompting safety officers to issue their warning.

Further reading: Editor Andrew Lynch comments on contrasting responses to fire safety campaigns for children

Technical fire safety manager, Amy Jenkinson, said: “When you consider the huge costs associated with a school fire such as rebuilding, temporary relocation, loss of equipment and pupil’s academic work, it seems like an obvious move to install a sprinkler system, but many schools still don’t.

“Above everything else, sprinklers give added protection to the pupils and staff at the school, and the firefighters who respond to tackle the fire.” 

The fire service was called to 59 incidents at schools between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2015. Of these, 15 started accidentally whilst 43 were arson and one was an unknown cause.

In 2012 firefighters attended a blaze at the then newly opened Parkwood Academy in the early hours of the morning, but a sprinkler system activated immediately, containing the fire and raising the alarm.

In contrast, a fire at Campsmount school in Doncaster in 2009 caused millions of pounds worth of damage and the entire facility had to be rebuilt. The school did not have sprinklers fitted. Sprinklers also reduce environmental damage by limiting the amount of smoke which enters the atmosphere and reducing water runoff from firefighting.

Fire also destroyed Edlington Comprehensive School, which had recently closed, in January 2009 (see picture above). But in 2011, sprinklers were retro-fitted into a block of flats in Gleadless after a grant from the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association. It was the first scheme of its kind in the country.

Celebrate the best of innovative practices and projects in the fire sector by booking your place for the 2015 Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards at: