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Ipswich College Saved by Fire Sprinklers

March 15

  • Date of incident; 15 March 2024.
  • Time of call; 01:53.
  • Location; Ipswich.
  • Use of building; Sixth Form College.
  • Location of fire; Kitchen.
  • Automatic Fire Suppression System; Sprinklers.
  • Fire Rescue Service; Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. (SFRS)

SFRS have reported the above-mentioned incident, identifying the benefits of installing fire sprinkler systems within educational establishments. It reinforces the findings of the ¹Sprinkler saves UK report completed on behalf of the National Fire Chiefs Council. This continues to form an integral part of the case to Government to make sprinklers mandatory in all new schools in England as they are in Wales and Scotland.

The college was created in 2010 providing education to over 2000 students from age 16-19 years.    At the design stage of the college, the proposed open plan and innovative design of the school atrium was larger than the permitted allowed compartment size. As a trade-off to comply with building regulations a commercial sprinkler system was installed throughout the premises.

The Incident

  • Fire appliances were mobilised to reports of an automatic fire alarm activating, reported via an alarm receiving centre.
  • On arrival to the premises operational crews completed a 360-degree assessment inspection identifying that the sprinkler alarm had operated confirming a sprinkler activation.
  • Upon entry to the college, a small fire within the kitchen had been successfully contained, extinguished by the activation of one sprinkler head located above the seat of the fire.
  • No further firefighting media was required with only minor fire, smoke damage reported within the compartment of origin.
  • The fire doors located within the kitchen prevented the fire from spreading to the main atrium area of the building.
  • Ignition source, self-heating of cloths contaminated with cleaning products following laundering, tumble drying, located on a worktop.
  • No injuries were reported.

Water Damage, Negative Reporting,

It was disappointing to read the negative press comments online following this incident which focused more on the water damage within the compartment of origin at the conclusion of the incident compared to the successful activation of the sprinkler system.

It should be remembered.

  1. The fire was extinguished, controlled within the compartment of origin by the
  • Sprinkler system
  • Passive fire safety measures.(Providing effective fire protection requires both passive and active elements working in unison and complementing the roles of one another.)
  1. Minimal fire damage was reported within the compartment of origin.
  2. No further firefighting media was required by SFRS.
  3. Valuable community asset saved from fire, reducing the potential disruption to the student’s college life.
  4. The sprinkler system maintained the colleges continuity of education allowing students, teachers to return to normality with minimal disruption.
  5. The college was shut for only one working day.
  6. At the conclusion of the incident, water will be in the vicinity of the seat of the fire. The extinguishing medium for wet pipe sprinklers as we know is water.

A robust emergency plan will allow the provision of vital information for the FRS to be shared by onsite representatives. Clarifying the location and provision of key elements of the active fire safety systems where present such as sprinklers and other forms of Automatic Fire Suppression Systms. (AFSS) The outcome of which will allow a robust onsite emergency response to be immediately actioned to assist the control of the sprinkler system during the fire incident and following a fire so that they can be reinstated.

Selsey Academy Fire


  • Compare that to the Selsey Academy fire which suffered extensive damage to its buildings and its contents during a blaze in August 2016.
  • The schools 453 students had to be taught in four separate temporary locations in the Selsey area and then in temporary classrooms until the new school was completed.
  • Demonstrating the devasting impact that fires in schools have on pupils and the disruption they cause to children’s education and to the local communities they serve.
  • The academy reopened in April 2019; sprinklers were not fitted despite the concerns raised by the Fire Brigades Union.
  • Andy Dark, assistant general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said:

 “The government’s attitude toward fire safety is shockingly cavalier. Sprinklers play an important role in preventing the growth of fire, limiting damage to buildings, and saving lives. The cost of fitting sprinklers represents a very low investment when weighed against the potential threat to life, the damage to buildings and the disruption of children’s education if there is a fire in a school. It is essential that the government act immediately to make it a legal requirement for sprinklers to be fitted in all new schools.”

If you want to make a difference working in the sprinkler/fire sector, we need your assistance……

  1. To make sprinklers the norm and not the exception – we need the evidence.
  2. Encouraging the fire rescue service/sprinkler industry to promote, collate, report sprinkler activations to Sprinkler Saves UK will help to create a central and comprehensive record of fire incidents where sprinklers played their role in containing/controlling or extinguishing the fire.
  • If you hear of a save report it!!!!!



March 15


Location (Town/City)
Type of Sprinkler Installation
Wet Pipe