CALLS have been made for water sprinklers to be made compulsory in public buildings after a blaze destroyed an Essex school.

Julie Young, Essex County Councillor and member of the Essex Fire Authority, said she had appealed to Fire Minister Brandon Lewis to legislate for the sprinkler systems at schools, care homes and hospitals.

But she said he refused and accused her of being “emotive”.
Her calls have been backed by the managing director of a Colchester-based worldwide fan company.

Mrs Young said: “I raised it with Brandon Lewis direct at the Fire Services Management Committee.

“Every Fire Minister, whatever political persuasion, refuses to move on this issue.

“He accused me of being emotional.”

Mrs Young said “against her wishes” sprinkler systems are not being installed at Colchester Academy, which is in her council ward, and is undergoing a £15million building project.

Neither are they being installed at St John’s Green Primary School, Colchester, where work has started on a £6million extension.

Sprinkler systems are usually heat-activated and can put out fire in a matter of seconds.

At the moment high rise blocks and large commercial buildings are legally required to have sprinklers fitted but this doesn’t extend to public buildings.

Mrs Young’s concerns come after John Ray Infants School in Notley Road, Braintree, was gutted by fire on Saturday.

The school had been undergoing building work ahead of the new term starting this week.
A joint police and fire service investigation will be carried out into the fire.

Mrs Young added: “The total devastation of John Kay surely proves that it's a false economy not to install sprinklers. All those children are going to face a huge disruption to their education, there will be interim costs and rebuild costs.

“Thirty fire officers had to risk their lives over the weekend fighting this fire, all for the fact of a modest amount of money.”