Zurich report highlights arson in fires report.

School fires cost Zurich an estimated £53m in 2007, according to its Annual Arson Report. The figures show a reduction of £21m on the previous year and are the lowest figure for eight years.

The report comes six months after Schools Minister Jim Knight announced, via the Design for fire safety in schools guide, that all new and refurbished schools would be expected to have sprinkler systems installed.

As more schools are suitably protected following the minister’s announcement Zurich predicted a significant drop in the cost of these claims in the next few years.

However with 75% of fire claims dealt with by Zurich Municipal being arson-related the organisation is maintaining pressure on government to continue to hold relevant parties to account regarding the fitting of sprinklers in new schools.

Larry Stokes, underwriting manager at Zurich Municipal, said: “While the latest figures are substantially down on recent years, the role of last summer’s adverse weather should not be overlooked. The government’s guidance stating schools built under the Building Schools for the Future programme should install sprinkler systems was a massive step forward. However, the threat still exists as many schools were under construction without sprinklers designed before it was published.”