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14 May 2010, 06:00
Four years after a primary school in Kent burnt down, Kent County Council has agreed to include sprinkler systems in designs for new schools in the county.
Lympne Primary was destroyed in the fire in 2006 and pupils had to be taught in other schools for two years until their new building was completed.
Current national legislation recommends that sprinklers are installed in any new school building and KCC has decided the devices should be included in any designs that are done for schools in the county.
The council has been working with Kent Fire and Rescue, Chief Fire Officer Charlie Hendry said: “We saw the devastating effects of fire when a blaze destroyed Lympne School near Folkestone in 2006. No-one was hurt but precious schoolwork and an important community resource were lost, causing a huge amount of upheaval and upset. It has only been within the last year that the children have been able to get back to normal in their new school.
“Existing laws suggest that local authorities ‘should’ rather than ‘must’ consider sprinkler systems and so KCC’s approach is a tremendous development, sending out a clear signal to other local authorities that sprinkler systems are a vital fire safety measure. We urge all those who have a responsibility to care for the young, the elderly or disabled, to follow KCC’s lead.”
In considering sprinklers, KCC looked at the huge emotional and financial impact of the Lympne School fire and weighed up other advantages including a substantial saving on building insurance premiums.
KCC Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education Sarah Hohler said: "KCC are pleased to be working with and alongside Kent Fire and Rescue Service, who are a valued partner in achieving safer buildings for the people of Kent. This is an example of successful partnership working between agencies for the benefit of Kent residents and we see this as a platform for continued partnership working in the future. Having sprinklers in our premises not only ensures that our buildings are safe, but can often achieve savings in the longer term."