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Fire safety audits to be carried out on 25 schools constructed in the last 20 years

Fire safety in Ireland’s public buildings has been under the microscope in recent months.

shutterstock_397844707 Shutterstock / Papa Annur Shutterstock / Papa Annur / Papa Annur

Update 12.45pm, 2 September

THE GOVERNMENT IS to commission fire safety audits on a number of schools constructed in the last 20 years.

The Department of Education has published a public tender notice requesting bids for a commission to carry out the audits on a ‘representative sample’ of up to 25 schools.

The tender is expected to be completed by the middle of next month, with the first reports then delivered by the end of the year.

Fire safety in public buildings here has become something of a hot topic in the wake of the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower in London earlier this summer.

Once the tender has been granted, the relevant company will reassess the fire safety certificate granted to each school upon its initial construction.

Separately, the government has published reports into five schools, originally constructed in 2008 by one company, Western Building System Ltd, where issues had been identified with those institutions’ compliance with their own fire safety certificates.

One of those schools, Powerstown Educate Together National School (ETNS) in Dublin, has since replaced the semi-permanent building in question with a new school building as of April 2017.

In a statement, the Board of Management of Powerstown ETNS said it was “assured by the Department of Education during the 2015/2016 school year that the semi-permanent building was safe for our pupils, families and staff to use prior to and post the 2016 audit”.

“To date the Board of Management have not been furnished with copies of this audit, despite numerous requests.

“Powerstown Educate Together National School is in its permanent building since 21st August 2016. This building was constructed by ABM. We would like to assure our school community that our building is fully compliant with fire safety regulations. All fire safety certificates are available for viewing in the school.

“The safety and well-being of our pupils and school community is, and always has been, of paramount importance to the Board of Management of Powerstown Educate Together National School, alongside the provision of a safe, child-centred and equality based learning environment for all our pupils,” the statement noted.

The reports found that the schools in question were not capable of providing 60 minutes’ worth of fire-retardation in the event of a blaze, the amount of time required to effectively facilitate evacuation.

The other school buildings in question are:

  • Gaelscoil Clocha Liatha, Greystones
  • Mullingar Educate Together NS
  • Belmayne Educate Together NS, Dublin
  • St Francis of Assisi National School, Belmayne, Dublin

A department spokesperson added, however, that those reports were not an indication that any of the buildings were dangerous, merely that they do not comply with the fire safety certificate requirements.

They also added that the local authority Fire Officer in each case has welcomed the “proactive approach” being taken to ensure that the failings identified are being rectified.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: Report into fire that destroyed 6 Kildare houses finds remaining homes not compliant with regulations

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