Sprinkler decision '˜not yet finalised' for new Selsey Academy

The decision on whether to fit sprinklers in the new Academy Selsey school '˜has not yet been finalised', the trust which runs it has said.

The massive fire at The Academy, Selsey in August 2016. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

It follows BBC South Today reporting that TKAT had chosen not to fit a sprinkler system in the new school, which will be built on the site where a major fire destroyed the old secondary school in August 2016.

In a statement to the Observer, Karen Roberts, chief executive of TKAT, said: “All building work is subject to both our internal stringent regulations and those of the Department for Education and local authority.

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“The decision on whether to install sprinklers in the new build at The Academy Selsey has not yet been finalised, as it will be based on the requirements of the Education Funding Agency.

The school's 400 pupils are being taught in temporary classrooms ahead of a new 'state-of-the-art' school being built.Kate Shemilt ks16000968-5 SUS-160922-162512001

“Our fire safety standards are subject to regular review, and this ensures we can be confident we have all the necessary precautions in place.”

The devastating fire almost a year ago destroyed most of the school buildings.

The school did not have a sprinkler system fitted, though a fire service spokesman said at the time there was no evidence to suggest it would have prevented the rapid spread of the flames.

The Government’s Design in Fire Safety in Schools guidelines, updated in August last year shortly after the Selsey fire, ‘no longer include an expectation that most new school buildings will be fitted with them (sprinklers)’.

Most of the old school buildings were destroyed by the fire

However, Tony Morris, a retired former firefighter of 32 years, said: “Reports that the trust running the Selsey Academy do not intend to fit sprinklers in the rebuilt school are beyond belief.

“Professional advice and common sense say that sprinklers should be fitted, but TKAT say they won’t, because they are ‘not a requirement’.

“Well it is not a requirement to look for traffic before crossing the road, it is just a recommendation, but only a fool does not do so.”

Mr Morris said fires also pose a danger to firefighters and to nearby properties, adding that ‘all these negative effects and risks can be removed by fitting sprinklers, which is relatively inexpensive in new buildings’.

More than 100 firefighters tackled the fire. Picture by Chris Hatton SUS-160821-105119001

He added: “TKAT must reconsider and do the right thing for pupils, staff, local residents and firefighters.”

The 400 pupils are currently being taught in temporary classrooms on the school grounds ahead of the new ‘state-of-the-art’ school being built.

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