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Lytchett Minster School science block built 'too late' for sprinkler system
THE £12million maths and science block near the fire-wrecked creative arts building at Lytchett Minster School was built just too late to have sprinklers fitted, education chiefs have confirmed.
Dorset County Council’s cabinet agreed in 2008 that sprinkler systems would be installed in all its new school buildings, in accordance with government guidance issued by then South Dorset MP and Schools Minister Jim Knight.
But building work on the maths and science block started in 2006 and it opened in early 2009.
Mike Harries, head of property for Dorset County Council, said: “Expert independent advice was sought during the design of the building to assess the fire risks.
“These experts concluded that sprinklers were not required and instead recommended designing the building in such a way that reduced fire risks.”
Department for Education guidance states that all new schools will have sprinklers fitted, unless they have been assessed as low risk.
The £52million rebuild of Queen Elizabeth School in Wimborne, opened in December 2011, did include a sprinkler system, but Ashdown Technology College in Poole, is not having sprinklers installed as part of its £15million redevelopment.
Andrew Flockhart, strategic director at Borough of Poole, said: “The fire safety scheme for the new and refurbished accommodation at Ashdown was developed in full consultation with Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and has been agreed with them.
“The scheme has been integrated with the designs that are now being built on site.
“This includes provisions to contain any fire, such as fire-doors, fire escapes, alarms and appropriate fire fighting equipment.”
Lytchett Minster School is currently being cleared of debris before pupils return next week, but the first phase of demolition of the creative arts block is not due to start until January 14.
Meanwhile some 2,000 square feet of specialist teaching space is needed.
The school, county council and insurance company are assessing how much of the ruined building can be retained in the rebuild, which is expected to cost about £6million, plus contents.
“In terms of the arts block damaged by the fire over the Christmas period, the school is keen to rebuild it as close to its original form as possible, subject to modern building regulations,” said Mr Harries.
“As a foundation school, Lytchett Minster School will lead on this project and make the key decisions, including the possible provision of a sprinkler system.
“The school is looking to appoint a project manager to co-ordinate all aspects of the scheme. Dorset County Council will continue to support in an advisory role.”