The Fire Brigades Union said the Government needed to co-ordinate “immediate multi-agency talks” to try to find a solution to fire safety concerns in schools and the home.
This comes as the Scottish Conservatives branded the plan “absurd”.
The union raised its concerns about the proposal to improve school classroom ventilation by undercutting school classroom doors, saying it could in turn compromise the fire safety of classrooms, putting students, staff and firefighters in danger.
Earlier this week, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said about 2,000 classrooms in Scotland needed improved ventilation, at an estimated cost of £4.3 million. This included £1.6m on air filters, £2.4m for mechanical fans and £300,000 for doors to be “undercut to increase air flow”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the plans on Thursday at First Minister’s Questions, saying there were “a number of things” that could be done to improve indoor ventilation, including altering doors or windows which do not allow ventilation.
The union also called for clarity over the newly rolled-out Government legislation on interlinked fire alarms in the home, which became law on February 1.
Ian Sim, FBU Scotland regional secretary said: “The safety of school students and staff, our members and the general public is paramount. At the moment there is too much uncertainty and mixed messaging over these two very important fire safety issues, in particular, the potential fire risk that comes from undercutting doors.The doors affected could potentially include fire doors.”
FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon defends proposal to chop bottom off school doors for venti…
Mr Sim added: “We need clarity and certainty about these plans and the Scottish Government must now agree immediate multi-agency talks to establish the safest way forward.”
Scottish Conservative shadow minister for children and young people, Meghan Gallacher, said: “Nicola Sturgeon has to listen to experts and halt her frankly absurd plans to chop up classroom doors.
“The First Minister has to stop digging in and recognize her proposal is illogical and even potentially dangerous, according to fire safety experts.
“Nicola Sturgeon dismissed valid concerns from a retired firefighter and claimed her plan was ‘common sense’. She must listen now that Scotland’s fire service is advising caution.”
Ms Gallacher added: “Our schools need more air filters to protect against Covid. They don’t need classroom doors chopped up.”
The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven’t already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to hear more from The Scotsman’s politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.
It’s available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.