Arson threat means we must install sprinklers

2nd September 2005 at 01:00
Your article "Arson in school hours" (TES, August 5) concurs with governors' concerns about this threat to school safety.

Given the worrying incidence of arson and its potentially devastating effects, we are asking our members to press for the installation of sprinklers in new-build and major refurbishments.

Sprinklers are simple devices that create safer school environments. They can quickly detect, and then extinguish or control fires.

We feel that the draft guidance from the Department for Education and Skills on minimising the problem of school fires is not robust enough in its approach to sprinklers.

The DfES emphasises the costs of sprinklers rather than the cost-benefits.

While there are some additional installation costs, this has to be set against the financial, educational, emotional and environmental devastation caused by school fires.

The DfES also makes too much of the vulnerability of sprinklers to vandalism. New systems are totally concealed from view.

Extended schools will result in schools being used by large numbers of people other than pupils and staff, who are unfamiliar with the layout and escape routes. Sprinklers can increase school safety for community use.

The National Governors' Council is working to ensure that all governors are aware of their responsibilities for fire-risk management and we aim to publish guidance this autumn.

Neil Davies Chair, NGC Office Londsdale House 52 Blutcher Street Birmingham

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