Primary schools with fire safety lapses will open on Monday

Western Building Systems says buildings met ‘all relevant fire safety and building regulations’

Schools which have been judged to not meet fire safety regulation by the Department of Education will open to pupils tomorrow.

Following the discovery of an issue with the fire resistance times of plaster board used at the recently-built schools, the department said it immediately set in train plans to upgrade the buildings.

On Friday the department also published a tender commissioning fire safety audits for a further 25 schools, built over the last 20 years.

The schools named in the audit are Powerstown Educate Together, Dublin 15; Gaelscoil Clocha Liatha, Greystones Co Wicklow; Mullingar Educate Together in Co Westmeath; Belmayne Educate Together, north Dublin; and St Francis of Assissi, National School, in Belmayne, north Dublin.

However, in a statement issued on Saturday, the board of management of Powerstown Educate Together said the audit related to a building that was demolished in September 2016.

Powerstown Educate Together said it had moved its classes to a new, permanent building in August 2016.

The buildings dealt with by the audit were constructed by Western Building Systems Ltd, under the Department of Education's "rapid build" school programme in 2008.

In a statement on Saturday the company said it believed “the buildings mentioned in the reports met all relevant fire safety and building regulations at that time” of construction.

The company also said it did not believe it was “responsible for issues that have presented themselves since the handovers, some of which were designed and built almost ten years ago.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said the schools in question would open on Monday. She referred to an earlier department statement which said it was “important to note” this was “not a finding that the buildings are dangerous, it is a finding that the buildings do not comply with the detailed requirements of the Fire Safety Certificates.”

The department said in the case of each of the schools it had engaged extensively with the fire officers of the relevant local authorities.

The department said the fire authorities had broadly welcomed the department’s approach to dealing with the issues highlighted and indicated their acceptance of the course of action being followed” including the identified remediation works and the fact that the schools continue to be occupied on a day-to-day basis.”

While classes in Powerstown had already been moved, in the four remaining schools where fire safety issues have been identified, remedial works are currently being carried out or will shortly commence, the department said.

The timetable for these works is as follows:

- Two Belmayne schools - September17th

- Mullingar ETNS - six weeks from September 1st

- Gaelscoil na nCloth Liath, Greystones - end October

The Department has also engaged with the relevant school authorities and will keep each informed of the works as these are progressed.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist