‘Massive building safety crisis in UK!’ – says FBU after classroom ceiling collapse

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Survivors of the Grenfell blaze with relatives, supporters and firefighters march on Downing Street

PUPILS were quickly ushered out of Rosemead Preparatory School in Dulwich, south London, yesterday morning after a classroom ceiling collapsed.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said three fire engines and 20 firefighters rushed to the scene at 9.20am.

Several children have been taken to hospital, while many others were treated for minor injuries.

The LFB said in a statement: ‘Three fire engines and around 20 firefighters were called to a ceiling collapse at a school in Thurlow Park Road in Dulwich. A ceiling had collapsed on the second floor.

‘A number of people were treated on the scene for minor injuries and a number of children taken to hospital by London Ambulance crews. All other children and staff were safely evacuated from the building.’

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) yesterday criticised the government for its lack of action on the building safety crisis, after the LFB said that builders are able to ‘game the system’ and avoid fire rules.

The union said that the ‘massive’ building safety crisis in the UK could be resolved if the government provided ‘the regulations and funding necessary to solve this crisis’, including ‘watertight legislation that prevents dodges and loopholes like this being possible’.

Deputy Commissioner of the LFB, Paul Jennings, said that ‘hundreds if not thousands’ of new buildings may be ‘deliberately’ designed to avoid fire safety rules brought in after Grenfell.

Jennings said: ‘We have got examples where we think people are deliberately designing and building their buildings below that 18 metre, six floor threshold, because they know if they reach that threshold they would have to put advanced and more intricate fire safety measures in.’

He also discussed people focusing on loopholes where ‘the guidance doesn’t specifically say they can’t do something’.

FBU Assistant General Secretary Andy Dark, said: ‘There is a massive building safety crisis across the UK, and residents are rightly concerned about safety in their homes.

‘We have been increasingly concerned with the growing evidence suggesting that the Westminster government, landlords and the construction industry are trying to avoid taking responsibility.

‘It comes as no surprise that players within the building sector are “gaming the system” to avoid compliance with the extremely limited improvements in the building regulations.

‘Ministers should listen to fire professionals and provide the regulations and funding necessary to solve this crisis.

‘The Prime Minister should be taking personal charge of introducing immediate action and introduce watertight legislation that prevents dodges and loopholes like this being possible.

‘Hand-wringing and mealy-mouthed words from the government are worthless. It’s actions that matter.’