John Ray School fire prompts nationwide sprinkler campaign

John Ray County Infant School after the devastating fire. Picture: Stephen Huntley

John Ray County Infant School after the devastating fire. Picture: Stephen Huntley - Credit: Stephen Huntley

Essex’s chief fire officer is spearheading a campaign to get planning law changed to ensure sprinkler systems are compulsory in new homes and in high risk premises such as schools.

Firefighters battle the blaze at John Ray County Infants School on August 31. Picture: Stephen Huntl

Firefighters battle the blaze at John Ray County Infants School on August 31. Picture: Stephen Huntley - Credit: Stephen Huntley

The move by David Johnson follows a major fire at John Ray Infant School, Braintree, on August 31 which has devastated the community and severely disrupted the education of many children.

Pupils are using the former site of Takeley Primary School, in Roseacres, while temporary portacabins are being installed on John Ray Junior School site and neighbouring Notley High School land. A date of November 4 has been given for all pupils to move back into the temporary accommodation. It is estimated John Ray will not be rebuilt until September 2015.

Members of the Essex Fire Authority have put their full support behind the campaign and passed a motion at their meeting on September 4 recommending that: “Any further school built in Essex should have a sprinkler system included. All consultations from planning authorities for new schools, care homes, hospitals, student accommodation or residential accommodation for the elderly or vulnerable will receive a recommendation to include the provision of a sprinkler system.”

Essex County Fire & Rescue Service has endorsed the authority’s position and has created a £250,000 fund for the retro fitting of sprinklers in high life-risk premises to support a high profile campaign promoting the benefits of water suppression systems.


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Mr Johnson has written to all Members of Parliament seeking support for all new domestic properties and other high risk premises, whether new or existing, to have sprinklers fitted.

He told MPs: “It is a simple fact that sprinkler systems are by far the most effective tool in helping prevent a fire from developing and undoubtedly save lives.

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“We seek your support in this regard and ask that you write to Brandon Lewis MP, who has ministerial responsibility for the fire Sservice and urge him to seek a change to the current planning law making the installation of sprinklers compulsory in domestic dwellings and other, high risk premises.”

Members of the public can lend their support to the campaign by writing to webmaster@essex-fire.gov.uk or via the service’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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