Zurich makes the perfectly reasonable point that newly built schools should have sprinkler systems by law in England, as they already do in Wales and Scotland. IE goes further; just fit sprinkler systems to all schools, what on earth is causing the delay in the usually risk averse public sector?
Schools are being urged to take precautions over the summer break to lower the risk of fire and arson, as data reveals more school fires occur in August than at any other time of year. Leading school insurer, Zurich Municipal has released claims data that shows between 2015 and 2020, the number of school fires in August was 44% higher compared to the average across this period.
With many school buildings empty over August, fires can potentially take longer to discover, resulting in more extensive damage. Over the same period (Jan 2015-Dec 2020), the average cost of a fire in August was £8.1m, five times higher than the average of £1.5m.
Tilden Watson, Zurich Municipal’s Head of Education, said: “Burnt out classrooms can cause major disruption to children’s education, with repairs often leading to months or even years of upheaval. As we head towards the summer break, it’s essential schools take adequate measures to combat potential losses as a result of fire and arson. This will minimise the risk of disruption to the start of the new term.”
Zurich Municipal is also renewing its call for sprinklers to be made mandatory in all new or majorly refurbished schools. This follows recent government proposals to only make sprinklers mandatory in Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools, and all schools over 11m in height. Proposals the insurer believes don’t go far enough
Tilden Watson continues: “Sprinklers are proven to contain the spread of blazes and limit the damage they inflict. However, we believe the government’s latest proposals still leave the vast majority of pupils and schools exposed to blazes. We need to bring England in line with Wales and Scotland, where sprinklers are already compulsory in all new and significantly refurbished schools.”