Two-thirds of schools have ‘poor’ fire protection with 40 schools a month hit by fire last year, a new study has revealed.
The study from Zurich Municipal shows 480 primary and secondary schools suffered fire damage in 2019, affecting the education of almost 20,000 children.
However, out of 1,000 school inspections, 66% were rated as having ‘poor’ fixed fire protection systems such as sprinklers. A quarter also had ‘poor’ fire detection measures such as smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Zurich is calling on the Government to ring-fence investment to improve the resilience of schools at high risk of fire.
Tilden Watson, head of education at Zurich Municipal, said: 'As well as protecting pupils, sprinklers drastically reduce the extent of damage when there is a blaze, often confining the fire to a single room. This gets children back into schools and classrooms quicker as well as saving taxpayers’ money so why is the Government not willing to make this investment now, minimising the impact on our children, potentially saving lives and millions of pounds in repair costs?'
Andy Dark, Fire Brigades Union assistant general secretary, added: 'The poor standard of fire safety provision in our schools is nothing short of a scandal. A major feature of this failure to invest is the lack of sprinklers. It makes clear and unchallengeable economic sense to have sprinklers fitted; it has huge support amongst teachers and parents and has universal support amongst fire service professionals and the wider fire community.
'It is impossible to imagine why the Government has dragged its heels on this issue.'