School notice boards are hidden fire hazard - Labour MP


School notice boards are a hidden fire hazard because they are often made of flammable material, an MP has warned.

"Notice boards can be set on fire very quickly, and they will burn," Labour's David Drew told MPs.

He claimed some boards are made of materials that are also sold as firelighters.

He called on the government to investigate the safety standards of boards being sold to schools, nursing homes and other public buildings.

In a Westminster Hall debate about the Regulation of Materials used in Notice Boards, Mr Drew said he had uncovered some alarming facts about the manufacture of notice boards.

"Something that we would want to be safe and secure is also available to people to set fire to, in a completely normal way, as a firelighter," he told the debate.

The majority of notice boards fitted in schools are made from a material that meets the lowest European safety standard, class E, said the Stroud MP.

He also highlighted the lack of consumer awareness about this product, saying: "Notice boards sold online are not only vague on standards and descriptions, but are sold in the same category as fire-tested boards tagged as school supplies.

"In other words, there is no discrimination between the different types of board."

Costs also play a role, with the cheaper products being the most flammable. The lack of clearly labelled standards often means these notice boards are being brought into schools, said Mr Drew.

He suggested the government's fire safety in schools guidelines should be updated to require all boards fitted in schools to be fire-safe to European class B standard or the national equivalent.

Responding for the government, junior business minister Kelly Tolhurst said: "It is vital that products of that kind are safe and remain safe.

"By law - under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 - manufacturers have a responsibility to put only safe products on the market."

She added: "I was interested in his point about the different fire safety grading of products, so I will happily investigate that."

The Local Government Association has estimated that the education of 90,000 children is disrupted by school fires every year.