The Department of Education has responded to fire safety concerns in five primary schools at a snail’s pace – putting children and teachers at unnecessary risk, Social Democrats Councillor Cian O’Callaghan said today.

Cllr O’Callaghan was commenting after the Department revealed that fire safety audits it commissioned found breaches of standards at five recently-built primary schools.

Cllr O’Callaghan said:

“Serious concerns about fire safety structural defects in rapid-build schools built by Western Building Systems emerged in June 2014 when Dublin Fire Brigade issued a warning to Rush and Lusk Educate Together that immediate action needed to be taken to address structural fire safety defects.

“As soon as these problems emerged, fire safety audits should have been carried out on all five schools, and immediate remedial works should have commenced. These issues could have and should have been resolved during the summer of 2014 before the new school year started.

“It is alarming that it took the department a year and half to commission the essential fire safety audits, which took place in November 2015 and January 2016. Incredibly, top priority works identified in January 2016 to be carried out immediately were only done in August 2016. Further priority works which should have been completed quickly are only being carried out now.

“There is absolutely no excuse for this delay – for three years teachers and students in these schools were put at unnecessary risk. The Department of Education’s casual attitude to the safety of children in our primary schools is inexcusable.”

The Western Building Systems rapid build schools were: Rush and Lusk Educate Together; Belmayne St Francis of Assisi; Belmayne Educate Together; Gaeilscoil Clocha Liatha, Greystones; Mullingar Educate Together and Powerstown Educate Together in Dublin (which has since been demolished and replaced).

Site surveys carried out by Michael Slattery Associates Fire Safety Engineers in November 2015 and January 2016 discovered several fire safety deficiencies including: inappropriate or non-existing fire stopping; deficiencies in 60 minutes’ fire resistance and compartmentation; lack of fire collars on soil and drainage pipes; missing smoke seals and excessive gaps on fire doors;  missing cavity barriers; and penetrations of fire rated partitions with services.

ENDS

2 September 2017