Skip to main content

Building Schools for the Future Programme: Fire Extinguishers

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what the Government’s policy is on the inclusion of sprinkler systems within schools being rebuilt under Building Schools for the Future; and if he will make a statement; (174302)

(2) which schools (a) have been built, (b) are being built and (c) are planned for re-build under Building Schools for the Future in each local authority area; and whether each has included a sprinkler system.

The Department announced its policy on sprinkler systems for schools in March 2007. The policy is that a risk assessment should be undertaken for new and refurbishment projects in all categories of state-funded schools including all BSF schools. To help local authorities and school designers to decide when sprinklers are needed, DCSF has produced a risk assessment tool and a cost benefit analysis tool. See and follow links to Sprinklers.

Our presumption is that new schools and some refurbished schools will have fire sprinklers installed, however this is not a compulsory measure. There may be cases where local authorities or other promoters of schools consider that sprinklers are not needed. If so, they will need to be able to demonstrate that such schools are very low risk and that sprinklers would not represent good value for money.

To date, seven schools have been built under the Building Schools for the Future programme, in Bristol, Solihull, Haringey, Sheffield, South Tyneside, Stoke and Sunderland; these include six ‘early win’ projects. We believe that the Bristol Brunel Academy is the only one fitted with a sprinkler system. This was a large new build project and the most suitable for a sprinkler installation. Five of the other six schools were refurbishment projects where it may not have been technically feasible to install sprinkler systems. It is also more expensive to install sprinklers in a refurbishment which means they do not always provide good value for money. These projects were all in the late design or construction stage when the new sprinkler policy was announced which would have made it more expensive and technically difficult to install sprinkler systems unless they were part of the original design.

We expect approximately 80 schools to be under construction in the current financial year in the following local authorities: Bradford, Bristol, Lewisham, Sheffield, Knowsley, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle, Solihull, Stoke, Sunderland, Waltham Forest, Lambeth, Durham and Kent.

Under Building Schools for the Future, we plan to rebuild, remodel or refurbish all secondary schools in England.

For projects that were either in a late stage of design or in construction when the new sprinkler policy was announced it is difficult to introduce a sprinkler system. However, for new projects and those still in an early stage of design we expect sprinklers to be included.