The London Fire Brigade says sprinklers must be installed in new and refurbished special educational needs schools in order to protect vulnerable children from the effects of disastrous fires.

According to the Fire Brigade, since 2014, there have been 549 fires in schools, nurseries and university buildings in London but just 13 of the buildings had sprinklers fitted.

This year to date, there have been 41 school fires in London and the Brigade says none of them had sprinklers fitted.

The Brigade has long been campaigning for the mandatory inclusion of sprinklers or other automatic fire suppression systems (AFSS) in all new and refurbished schools.

However, fire experts warn that many schools are being built or are having major refurbishment works without sprinklers or AFSS being included.

On the subject of special educational schools, the Brigade recently pointed out that children with special educational needs often rely on familiar routines and surroundings. As a result, a devastating school fire could cause the children and their families significant disruption and upset by displacing them from their classroom or school with its specialist facilities, with suitable alternative interim education providers often difficult to find.

Commenting on the issue, Dan Daly, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, said, “So far this year we’ve been to at least two school fires a week and none of these buildings had sprinkler systems which would have greatly reduced the damage caused by the fire and the devastating effect on children, parents and staff.

“Minimising the disruption and impact of a fire is particularly pertinent at special educational needs school where vulnerable children learn. Finding another educational facility that can meet the needs of vulnerable children can be exceptionally difficult if there has been a serious fire.”

Last reviewed 7 June 2019