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Fire Service: School policy protects lives

15 April 2004

School policy protects lives

The Fire Service is defending its national agreement with the Ministry of Education that limits the use of school facilities for sleepovers and requires appropriate levels of fire protection to ensure the facilities are safe.

Fire Service Fire Safety Director Jim Dance said he disagreed with an Oamaru school principal who criticised the new agreement today as "bureaucracy gone mad".

Mr Dance said the level of risk of allowing large groups of children to sleep in school facilities that did not have adequate levels of fire protection was not acceptable.

"People do not smell smoke when asleep and the Fire Service statistics demonstrate that a large number of fire fatalities occur at night when people are sleeping.

"It is unfair to compare a classroom of alert children and teachers during the day, which has an approved and practised evacuation scheme, with a night-time situation where it is dark and unfamiliar and children and adults are sleeping."

"We are not trying to spoil the adventure of a sleep-over, but we consider the risk too great unless adequate fire protection is provided."

"The Ministry of Education has taken a responsible approach in ensuring children"s safety by signing up to this agreement," Mr Dance said.


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