Fire service issues school arson warning

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are issuing strong advice to head teachers about reducing the risk of arson attacks on schools.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service are issuing strong advice to head teachers about reducing the risk of arson attacks on schools.

The warning follows an incident at a Cullompton school on last week when firefighters were called to put out a fire which had been deliberately started in the grounds of the school. One classroom was severely damaged by fire and interlocking rooms were damaged by smoke.

Two crews from Tiverton, one crew from Honiton and the incident command vehicles from Exmouth were mobilised along with specialist hazardous materials and fire investigation officers.

The crews got to work rapidly using six breathing apparatus, two hose reels and one main jet. Further assistance was required so one crew from Bampton and one crew from Exeter were mobilised.

Station Manager Steve Purchall said: "The fire was well developed when the first crews arrived and they did an excellent job preventing the fire spreading to other rooms within the building."

It is believed that the fire was started deliberately using combustible materials outside the school, and the fire spread into the building through the roof space.

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Fire officers strongly recommend that head teachers and governors should assess the risk of such attacks to their schools now, before it is too late. Improve security, remove waste materials and consider a 'School Watch' through parents and friends throughout the holidays.

Measures that have been highlighted to reduce such attacks are:

* Ensuring perimeter fencing is adequately maintained

* The use of boundary signs to deter intruders

* Ensuring that all windows and doors are securely closed

* Any stores in and around the school are kept locked

* Any waste or rubbish is well managed and stored securely away from main buildings

* Any waste or wheelie bins are locked shut

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has appealed that during the school holiday period everybody who lives, works or passes near to a school, becomes even more observant than normal and if anything suspicious is seen then to contact the police.

Additional information on arson reduction may be found on: or for general fire safety advice.

If you would like to discuss a specific fire safety matter with a fire safety officer please contact the Fire Safety Helpline on (01392) 872288.

If anyone has any information about fires no matter how big or small in their local area they should telephone CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555111 where they can give details completely anonymously.

For this specific incident if anyone has any information, they should contact the police on 08452 777444 quoting log 1121 of 12/2/09.