Herts F&RS responded to a fire at the £8.7m. Marriott’ and Lonsdale School in Stevenage at 1230 hours on 5 November. The school was opened in January 2013 by then education secretary, Michael Gove.
The school is an amalgamation of two former Stevenage Schools and accommodates around 1500 pupils including 60 severely mobility impaired children and who live on the premises.
At just before 12:30 on Wednesday 5th November a fire was started in a WC cubicle when a toilet roll was ignited. This then actuated a smoke detector and raised the alarm.
The fire actuated a single recessed sprinkler head, located in the ceiling above the cubicle, which suppressed and contained the fire until the arrival of the fire service. Fire damage was limited to a small area of about 52 within the WC and the damage caused was estimated at about £1k.
The school carried out its well-rehearsed evacuation procedure from one compartment only, while the mobility impaired children were able to remain in their half of the school whilst the fire was dealt with. No pupils or staff was reported to have been injured.
On the arrival of the fire service, the officer in charge having ascertained the fire was, ordered the sprinkler system to be turned off and started water removal procedure with the aid of an incident support unit.
The incident caused minimal disruption with the School fully operational 1 hour after the fire.
BAFSA Comment: The need for sprinkler protection to be extended to lavatories is often questioned and is frequently suggested as a method of cutting the cost of sprinkler protection in schools and public buildings. This incident demonstrates just what a false economy this could be.