A West Midlands Fire Service campaign to have all schools equipped with sprinkler systems by law has won the backing of more than 80 MPs.

The West Midlands Fire and Rescue Authority executive committee yesterday heard that an Early Day Motion to make it mandatory for all new schools to be equipped with sprinklers was attracting cross-Commons support.

A total of 82 local MPs have now added their names to the motion including Birmingham Selly Oak Labour MP, Lynne Jones. They want any existing school to be fitted with a sprinkler when undergoing major refurbishment.

Firefighters have been working with the chief executive of the National Governors' Association towards creating legislation, resulting in the motion being tabled.

The House of Commons heard that more than 2,000 schools are damaged by fire each year at an estimated cost of £100 million to local education authorities.

The move follows a fire in February which caused damage costing more than £1 million to a Solihull school.

Firefighters were forced to watch as the inferno spread through Light Hall School destroying a two-storey block and causing its roof to collapse because no sprinklers had been fitted.

Most of the West Midlands local authorities have already agreed for new build schools, or those rebuilt after a fire, to be fitted with sprinkler systems.

The fire authority executive committee chairman, David Hinton, said: "Two weeks ago nine MPs had signed up to support the motion. We need to get 50 signatures before the motion can be tabled but we've now got 82. We would like to get it up to about 300 so the motion carries as much weight as possible."

Frank Sheehan, chief fire officer for West Midlands Fire Service, said: "The provision of sprinklers in school buildings will significantly reduce the impact of fire."