With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to cause disruption to schools for children, a major fire at a Lancashire school has led to its closure and further disruption to students’ education prior to the summer holidays.
The Business Sprinkler Alliance reports that the blaze at the School in Ormskirk required six crews from the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and some from Merseyside to attend. Whilst the Fire and Rescue Service brought the fire under control, there was serious damage to three classrooms in the building and the school has closed to deal with the aftermath.
The school had no sprinklers fitted and the impact will be felt by over 200 pupils who will now be displaced to a local university for the last few weeks of term. When the children return after the summer holiday, temporary or further alternative spaces will be needed for the classrooms that have to be restored. Fires do not have to damage an entire school to cause disruption. The loss of three classrooms in this school cannot be made up by using alternative space. There is not that capacity within most schools.
According to a 2020 study carried out by Zurich Municipal, schools in England have been hit by 2,300 fires in the past five years alone.
“From disruption to education through to its impact on finances and the local community, fires in schools must be avoided,” describes the Business Sprinkler Alliance. “Although sprinkler systems are a celebrated solution to contain such events and are mandatory in new school buildings in Scotland and encouraged in Wales, their effectiveness has not led to successful implementation across all UK schools. Sprinklers would help to contain the fire and limit the potential damage, in turn meaning that the interruption to education would be minimised.”
The Business Sprinkler Alliance explains, “With the impact of a blaze so devastating, how many more fires like this need to occur and how many more children will have their schooling disrupted before sprinkler installation becomes a prerequisite of school design and safety? Every extra day missed harms a child’s attainment and their life chances.”
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