Hot works blamed for school refurb blaze

Hot works blamed for school refurb blaze

A fire that completely destroyed a Derbyshire school was most likely caused by hot works taking place during a refurbishment project, prompting calls for thermal imaging and hot work training for construction workers.

Firefighters were called to the accidental blaze at Harrington Junior School in Long Eaton on 28 May 2020.  Crews from across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire attended the scene and worked throughout the night, with two firefighters sustaining minor injuries.

Group manager Dean Gazzard, who was the officer in charge at the fire said: “Workers carrying out the refurbishment of the school did everything they could to contain the fire and prevent its spread before the arrival of firefighters. 

“Fire crews worked in extreme heat and challenging conditions, but despite everyone’s efforts, the school was totally destroyed by the rapidly spreading fire.”

Kumu Kumar, head of risk engineering at insurance firm Zurich, said: “As the recent blaze that destroyed Harrington Junior School in Long Eaton highlights, hot work remains a constant threat, and more action is needed to tackle the problem.  Although the construction industry has well-established safeguards in place, hot work fires are continuing to break out with alarming regularity. 

“A combination of approaches – including the use of thermal imaging cameras and hot work training – could help to dramatically reduce the frequency of hot work fires.  Costing as little as £400, the devices could prevent millions of pounds worth of damage and reduce the costly impact on local communities.”