WORK to install sprinkler systems in all new school buildings has led to a local authority being short-listed for an award.

Darlington Borough Council is a finalist in the annual awards scheme run by Alarm, a national public sector risk management group.

The council announced its intention to have sprinklers installed in new schools following an arson attack on Middleton St George Primary School in 2003.

Schools with sprinkler systems are offered up to 90 per cent reductions in insurance premiums and the council has used those savings to set up a sprinkler risk management fund to help finance the new policy.

The fund helps to provide, via loans, the installation of sprinklers in new schools if there is a shortfall of funds from other sources.

Companies building schools in Darlington, under private finance initiatives, have also adopted the sprinklers policy.

Don Bristow, the council's cabinet member for resources, said: "I am delighted that the council's work to prevent fire damage in new schools has been recognised by the Alarm awards."

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester on July 4.