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Upminster secondary school among 57 schools that reported fires and didn't have sprinklers fitted

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 August 2019

The Sacred heart of Mary Girls' School was one of 57 schools that reported and did not have a sprinkler fitted. Picture: Steve Poston

The Sacred heart of Mary Girls' School was one of 57 schools that reported and did not have a sprinkler fitted. Picture: Steve Poston

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The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is raising awareness after more than 50 schools - including one in Havering - did not have a sprinkler system fitted when a fire took place on its premises this year.

Of the 57 school fires that took place in London from January to July this year, none had an Automatic Fire Supression System (AFSS).

The Sacred Heart of Mary Girls' School in St Mary's Lane, did not have an AFSS system in place when a fire was reported at the secondary school on May 23 at around 6.30pm.

Charlie Pugsley, deputy assistant commissioner for Fire Safety, said: "It is shocking that we have been campaigning for a number of years to make sprinklers mandatory in new schools and retrofitted during major refurbishments and yet this year, every school fire we have been called to has had no sprinklers fitted.

"Millions of pounds are wasted every year repairing fire damage in London's schools when sprinklers could have prevented the spread of fire.

"Sprinklers are the only fire safety system that detects a fire, suppresses a fire and can raise the alarm.

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"This is not just about saving money.

"When a school is closed it disrupts a child's education, impacts on the local community and affects parents by closing breakfast and after school clubs."

Sprinklers are especially important during the summer holidays when buildings are empty and fires can smoulder undetected, causing extensive and expensive damage.

Last week marked the 10th anniversary of a major fire at Thomas Fairchild School in Napier Grove, Hoxton.

At the height of the incident, 15 fire engines and more than 100 firefighters attended the scene and crews remained at the school for more than 10 hours.

Mr Pugsley added: "The easiest time is to fit sprinklers when schools are being built or refurbished.

"I find it staggering that such a simple safety measure is so easily omitted from the designs."

In all school fires attended by the Brigade since 2014, there have only been 13 cases where sprinklers have been fitted.

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