Smoke was seen for miles around as 14 fire engines and around 100 firefighters rushed to The Academy in Selsey.
Although investigations are ongoing, the fire is believed to have started in the roof space. Due to strong winds, the fire which started around 8am Sunday was then able to quickly spread.
More than 60 calls were received by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service from concerned members of the public who could see the smoke and flames.
But the fire service has been quick in saying there is “nothing to suggest” the blaze was the result of arson, dismissing it as “complete tosh”.
The Kemnal Academies Trust said it wanted to ensure “children of the Selsey Academy can return to school as soon as possible”. It has arranged for pupils to collect their GCSE results from a local primary school.
Chair of Governors Bill Emerson also said “It’s shocking. The structures are effectively a skeleton now compared to what they were”.
It’s always sad to see a fire of this scale, especially when it is going to have an effect on so many people in the community. But at least the fire happened whilst no-one was in the school.
Many schools have fire alarm systems in place which will detect a fire wherever it happens. And as a result, it enables them to act quickly; especially if the school is full of pupils.
A range of different sensor types means it is possible to place a detector in any environment, and different types of fire. This is what makes these systems so reliable.
For example, placing heat detectors in kitchens and workshops means false alarms are not caused by steam or dust.
Some of these systems also have the ability to automatically alert the fire services, which allows for an even quicker response time.
In order to prevent arson, the advice is always to ensure that the premises are appropriately secured. Plus, by keeping bins well away from buildings and padlocked in position, you make it as hard as possible for anyone to start a fire.
Although this particular fire is not suspected of being the result of arson, it’s always a concern which schools have.
With this fire still in mind and the start a new school year just around the corner, now is the ideal time for schools to improve their safety precautions.
A new school year means lots of new pupils. They are unfamiliar with the school’s emergency evacuation plan, so it’s vital to discuss and practice this as soon as possible. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to refresh the memories of returning students after 6 weeks away.
This way, you’re giving everyone the best chance of getting out quickly, calmly and without coming to any harm in a real fire.
Fire alarm systems are so important in monitoring the safety of the school buildings, and the children inside. So make sure they are well maintained and annually serviced.
In fact, make sure all fire safety equipment in your school is regularly checked and serviced as appropriate.