Fire-threat schools to get hi-tech sprinklers

SEVEN schools in Leeds are to be fitted with sprinkler systems in an attempt to foil arsonists.

Attacks last year cost more than 1m and disrupted the education of dozens of pupils.

Now five primary and two secondary schools will become the first in the city to benefit from a hi-tech sprinkler system.

They are Lawnswood and Roundhay high schools, Upper Wortley, Oakwood, Hill Top, Spring Bank and the new Morley primary.

The Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Beat The Vandals campaign last year to try to curb the menace of vandalism, including fire-raising.

A total of 20m of damage was caused in attacks on 80 schools last year.

Among those targeted have been Allerton Grange High, where 500,000 damage was caused in a fire last Easter; Brigshaw High School at Allerton Bywater, which suffered 8m damage in an arson attack last year.

Another victim was Crawshaw High School, Pudsey,which suffered 4m damage in a blaze caused by a “carelessly discarded smoking material”.

Announcing the new investment, Coun Peter Gruen (Labour lead member for education), said: “Fire safety in schools is a prime concern and I’m pleased to see that we’re installing sprinklers to protect pupils and property.

“Last year we had several incidents of arson at schools that cost the city over 1m. The new sprinklers will limit the effects and ensure the safety of pupils and staff.”

The 800,000 project will be carried out by Armstrong Priestley, under a contract with Mowlem Special Projects, which has a 38m contract with the city council.

The new sprinklers will be concealed to minimise vandalism, and contain a combined sensor.

The system will be installed in all classrooms, corridors and halls in each school, providing a comprehensive fire safety device able to deal equally well with small localised fires and large blazes.

Work has already started at several schools and will be finished in January. The whole project will be completed by August 2003.