Schools in England are nearly twice as likely as other commercial buildings to suffer a blaze, according to the latest report by Zurich Municipal.
Zurich Municipal’s latest data on 26,866 primary and secondary schools in England revealed that the average school posed a fire risk 1.7 times greater than non-residential buildings, gaining a fire risk score of 0.58 and 0.33, respectively.
Schools were also three times more likely to fall into the “high” fire risk category than 2.9 million non-household properties – at 58% and 20%, respectively.
“An alarming number of school buildings pose a high fire risk – yet many are poorly protected against a potential blaze,” said Tilden Watson, the head of education at Zurich Municipal.
“Burnt out schools and classrooms cause major disruption to children’s education, with repairs leading to months or even years of upheaval. They also result in the loss of spaces which local communities rely on out of school hours.”
Despite being twice as likely to be hit by a blaze as other types of commercial buildings, two-thirds (66%) of schools inspected by Zurich lack adequate fixed fire protection measures, while 24% rated “poor” for fire detection.
“It costs far more to repair fire-ravaged schools than it does to install sprinklers. Even so, cash strapped schools cannot be expected to pick up the bill,” Watson said.
“The government’s COVID-19 investment is a critical opportunity to ensure schools are more resilient to fire. The government should also gather and disclose more data on school fires to help fully understand the risks they pose and their wider financial and social impacts.”