Walk into any new hotel, populated work place or shopping store, and you will see water sprinklers in corridors, rooms and public spaces. The reason? They save lives and they save buildings.
Walk into most South Tyneside schools however, and you wont find any sprinkler systems.
Todays Gazette carries the front page story that only two schools in the Borough have the safety sytems fitted. The reason? That well worn adage of cost. The issue came to press attention with the rebuilding of Dunn Street Primary School, which was burnt down in 2003. Faced with an additional bill of £100,000, the Council decided not to install any sprinklers. The total cost of the rebuild was £1.3 million.
Whilst it could be argued that to install systems in all Borough schools would be cost prohibitive, surely new schools should be upgarded as standard procedure? Remaining premises could be incorporated on a rolling programme.
Fire sprinkler systems not only save properties, but more importantly they save lives. Local fire brigade officers support their installation, and new government guidelines are working towards making them the norm. Surely this Borough could make savings elsewhere in order to protect our children and infrastructure.
Perhaps a few less jaunts abroad would be a good place to start.