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Tuesday 26 September 2017

'Safety breach primary schools not fire traps', Bruton assures parents

Education Minister Richard Bruton
Education Minister Richard Bruton

Education Minister Richard Bruton has said parents can be reassured they are not sending their children to fire traps, despite breaches of fire safety regulations found at five schools.

The Department of Education and Skills confirmed a week ago that breaches of fire safety standards were found at three Dublin primary schools, one in Greystones, Co Wicklow, and another in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.

Fire safety audits commissioned by the department found breaches at Powerstown Educate Together National School, as well as Belmayne Educate Together National School and St Francis of Assisi Nation- al School, both in Belmayne.

The other two primaries are in permanent buildings at Gaelscoil na gCloch Liath in Greystones and Mullingar Educate Together National School.

All five were put up in 2008 under a rapid-build programme.

The breaches prompted the department to commission more fire safety audits at a cross-section of 25 as yet unnamed schools built over the past 20 years.

Despite concerns over insufficient compliance with requirements of fire retardants used in the schools' construction, children are not at risk, the minister said yesterday.

"We've been working very closely with the fire officers," Mr Bruton said.

"These buildings are not dangerous. The issue here is that fire certificates set out certain provisions in relation to the delay times for fire spreading and that requires certain components in the building to be up to a very particular standard.

"We found in the case of some schools that this wasn't the case.

Alarm

"There was an audit undertaken and the corrective work is being done as we speak and will be completed very shortly."

The minister stressed that the audit of more than two dozen more randomly-selected schools built over the past two decades is merely a precautionary measure and not a cause for alarm.

"We are in view of the higher public concern around fire safety," he said.

"We have decided to conduct an audit of all buildings on a sample basis that were built in the past 20 years to ensure that all buildings are meeting the specifications set out in the fire certificate.

"So this is taking proper precautions to deal with issues that are of public concern.

"But I think any parent can have confidence that this is not about a building being dangerous. They've been built to higher standards than most homes.

"But we want to make sure that any commitment that was made in the fire certificate when the building was designed and built is being fully honoured."

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