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Swindon School Sprinkler Save Update
22 November 2021
- Date of incident; 22 November 2021
- Time of call; 1:46
- Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Rescue Service
- Occupancy; Single Storey Primary School
- Location; Lydiard Millicent Swindon
- Fire; Ground floor toilet, suppressed by school sprinkler system
Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Rescue Service have provided the following comprehensive update for the above mentioned incident highlighting the clear benefits of installing sprinklers in schools. BS12845, sprinkler system was installed during the construction of the new school in 2011 for life safety, property protection.
A fire was discovered within a toilet and cloakroom area on the ground floor involving the the ignition of a toilet roll and its plastic holder causing a single sprinkler head to activate, extinguishing the fire and limiting smoke and heat damage.
On arrival operational crews found that the fire has been completely extinguished by the sprinkler system proceeded to assist the school in isolating the system. Business continuity is paramount following any operational incident allowing operational crews to interact with the sprinkler system preventing unwanted water egress.
It should be noted:-
- The fire was extinguished before the arrival of the FRS
- Flashover was prevented
- The fire was contained to compartment of origin
- Safety of operational crews was reinforced
- No reported injuries to pupils or staff
The school was closed for the remainder of the day of the incident, and for 2 subsequent days to make repairs to the toilet area with the students switching to remote learning during this period.
Group Manager Tim Gray said “Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service continue to lobby for the inclusion of sprinkler systems in all premises, particularly in education buildings. The speed of response from the installed system and its control over the fire growth undoubtedly ensured that fire damage was kept to a minimum allowing the school to re-open within 2 days of the fire with as little disruption to the school as possible and no loss of valuable work or property
The Swindon Advertiser reported, the school is part of the Diocese of Bristol Academies Trust. Ceo Jez Piper said: “The fire was quickly contained, and the school was evacuated very quickly and effectively, with no harm to any pupil or member of staff. “The school sprinkler system worked well, and the fire brigade attended the site very quickly, ensuring that the fire was fully out and to secure the area”
When you compare this to a similar incident attended by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on the 3rd January 2017, the service attended a serious fire at Avenue Primary School in Warminster. On arrival. operational crews found a well developed blaze within a classroom block. Sprinklers were not fitted, the damage was extensive but crews were able to stop the spread of fire to further school buildings.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, like all fire rescue services continue to urge, lobby local education and environmental leaders to install school sprinkler installations.
- The impact of fires in schools was clearly highlighted in the article contained in the BAFSA, Sprinkler focus magazine November 2020 edition, highlighting 3 school fires where sprinklers were not fitted.
- Sprinkler saves in England is a rare event, it is not mandatory for new schools in England to be fitted with sprinklers which is already the case in Wales since 2014 and Scotland since 2010.
- Despite a growing acceptance amongst the public, and some politicians of the value of automatic fire sprinklers, there is a continuing reluctance to fit sprinklers in new schools in England.
 Fire Incident data set for 2018/19 to 20/21 where sprinklers are reported as operated following a fire in a primary/infant school in England
On average for the 3-year period, 1 sprinkler saves a year for a primary/infant school in England,,
- British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, sprinkler focus magazine, 3 school fires where sprinklers not fitted
- British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, Schools feature.
- The Swindon Advertiser
- Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Authority
 Source: FOI Requests for Incident Recording System Data relating to primary fires attended by FRSs in which sprinklers were present for England, Scotland, and Wales for the financial years 2018/19 to 2020/21