A fire chief has welcomed a new council policy requiring all new school plans in Hartlepool to have sprinkler systems.
Hartlepool Borough Council’s joint regeneration and children’s service committee agreed to implement the policy to introduce sprinklers into new school developments.
It comes after a number of applications for new school buildings were submitted earlier this year to the planning committee, and councillors wanted to ensure sprinklers were part of the plans.
The new policy requires any developments for new school buildings, extensions to existing buildings, or change of use plans for non-school buildings to school use facilities, to include sprinklers.
Cleveland Fire Brigade’s head of fire engineering Joe Flounders, speaking at the meeting, praised the decision.
He said: “I fully support this policy, these buildings aren’t just schools, they are community hubs.
“Looking to secure the safety of our children, community and staff wherever they may be is absolutely essential.
“If a school was burnt down in a child’s last year with exams approaching it would have a massive impact on job expectations and their future.”
Councillors sitting on the committee also praised the policy and its importance to the area.
Coun Rob Cook said: “I think to not have this as a policy would be folly.
“Whatever we can do to save anyones life, whether that be a child or a teacher, we need to be doing.
“If we in Hartlepool can start setting ball rolling to encourage people to have sprinkler systems in schools and buildings, it can only be a plus.”
Andrew Carter, Assistant Director for Economic Growth and Regeneration, said at the meeting the council will also advise developments for hospitals, houses of multiple occupance (HMOs) and three storey buildings to have sprinklers.
Chairman Stephen Akers-Belcher also praised High Tunstall and English Martyrs schools, which submitted applications for new buildings earlier this year and included sprinkler systems.
High Tunstall headteacher Mark Tilling spoke at the meeting to fully support the sprinkler policy.
The move means that The Education Skills and Funding Agency will fund the integration of sprinklers into designs, as a local policy is needed to secure funding for such provision.
Coun Cook also urged the Government to look at a national policy on sprinklers in school’s.
Sprinklers are mandatory in new school buildings in Scotland and Wales, but not in England.
Coun Cook said: “It is up to the Government to do something, we are all aware what happened over at Grenfell.
“That was unbelievable and that could have been avoided.
“We’ve got to be realistic, putting a policy forward is one thing, but the government can take action with the stroke of a pen.”