Date: 21st September, 2021
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service has thanked the community of Woodborough, near Pewsey, for its support following a fire at the village school on Friday evening (17 September).
During the incident, local people provided refreshments, the social club was opened as a rest area, and driveways were made available for vehicles to be parked.
Chief Fire Officer Ben Ansell said: “This was a large and complex incident, with firefighters working tirelessly to contain the fire, and protect and save as much of the school as possible. We know this has had a significant impact on the community, and we were incredibly grateful for the support we received, not just within the village but from partners including Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Police.”
He added: “Our Education team is already in contact with the school to see how we can help the children come to terms with what has happened, and I know that local firefighters are also offering whatever help they can give to the recovery process.”
The majority of firefighters who attended the incident – including from Pewsey, Devizes and Marlborough fire stations – are on-call, so were at home or their primary employment when their pagers went off.
Mr Ansell said: “Our Service is predominantly rural, and we rely on people being willing to support the places where they live and work by being on-call firefighters. We are always looking for new recruits, so I would urge anyone interested in joining us to get in touch – more information is on our website. Not only can you earn some additional income, you can make a real difference to the lives of others.”
Following investigations, the Service has concluded that Friday’s fire started accidentally in the school roof, which had been undergoing building works.
Mr Ansell said: “Whenever there is a school fire, there is debate around whether the building should have had fire sprinklers, in no small part due to the devastation such incidents cause and the effects on the children, staff and the wider community. While sprinklers might not have prevented this fire from taking hold in the roof, they would have reduced the speed at which it spread and limited the damage caused before my firefighters arrived on scene. As a Service, we will continue to promote the installation of sprinklers in new and refurbished school buildings, and I know our fire safety team will be working with the management of Woodborough School to explore all available options for keeping the site safe from fire in the future.”
For more about the work of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, please visit www.dwfire.org.uk
- Over the course of the incident, crews attended from Pewsey, Devizes, Marlborough, Calne, Trowbridge, Salisbury, Royal Wootton Bassett, Westbury, Andover, Chippenham, Westbury, Mere, Swindon, Stratton and Tisbury.
- The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) recently responded to the government consultation ‘Building Bulletin 100: Fire Safety Design for Schools’, published on 27 May 2021, saying: NFCC believes that school and educational buildings are vital community assets, and their design should include fire safety measures which aim to minimise the effects of fires that may occur within them. NFCC have called for automatic water suppression systems to be mandatory in all new and refurbished school buildings. We acknowledge that deaths and injuries in school fire are rare, and whilst sprinklers would provide additional life safety benefits, the greatest gains to be made are in protecting the property which will in turn secure the continued education of the children. In the event of a fire, sprinklers should ensure minimum disruption and allow use of the premises to return to normal as quickly as possible.