Selsey Academy sprinkler decision '˜incomprehensible'

It is '˜incomprehensible' that the Academy Selsey will be rebuilt without sprinklers.

The fire at Selsey Academy in 2016. Picture by Eddie Mitchell SUS-160821-101248001
The fire at Selsey Academy in 2016. Picture by Eddie Mitchell SUS-160821-101248001

That is according to the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and National Education Union (NEU), which have accused the government of a ‘shockingly cavalier’ attitude to fire safety.

In a letter to Damian Hinds, secretary of state for education, the unions criticise the announcement last month that the Selsey secondary school, destroyed by fire in 2016, will be rebuilt without a sprinkler system.

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Calling Selsey ‘not an isolated case’, it cites the school at the base of the fire-destroyed Grenfell Tower, built in 2014, as not having sprinklers, along with newly-built schools in Croydon.

Andy Dark, from the FBU, 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.”

TKAT, the trust that runs The Academy, said detailed discussion, risk assessment and consultation with experts had been done before it decided not to fit sprinklers in the new school, which is currently being built to be finished by the end of the year.

TKAT CEO Karen Roberts said: “The building design at Selsey is in accordance with our stringent regulations, and we are confident in both the fire prevention and safety procedures in place across all our academies.

“Our priority now is to ensure that the building work is completed on schedule, allowing our students and staff to move back into the new building and continue with their education undisturbed.”

The unions warned that only 35 per cent of new schools built in England since 2010 have been fitted with sprinklers, calling on the government to adopt the policy in Scotland and Wales for all schools rebuilt after fire to have sprinklers installed.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Schools have a range of fire protection measures and new schools undergo an additional check while being designed.

“Where sprinklers are deemed necessary to keep children safe, they must be installed.”