The Scottish Government is planning on improving the ventilation in schools where £1.6million will be spent on air filters and £300,000 on cutting the bottom off doors to improve airflow. However, Douglas Ross echoed concerns from some firefighters who say the shortening of doors would not hold back smoke should there be a fire and warned the move could be disastrous. Nicola Sturgeon angrily bit back, calling it an “absurd line of questioning” before the presiding officer was forced to intervene as the chamber became rowdy.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions, Mr Ross was worried that the plans to shorten doors could mean fatal smoke could fill classrooms if a fire occurred.
He said: “Concerns about the risk from fire from this plan have been raised.
“This morning, a retired firefighter wrote us, he said, and I quote, the doors in a school are essential for holding back heat and smoke should a fire start.
“The First Minister wants a grown-up and serious conversation about this so does she agree with that quote from the retired firefighter and can she stand up and tell us what consultation her government had with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service about these plans?”
Ms Sturgeon rose from her seat and replied: “This is an absurd line of questioning, can I just say, first of all, to aid Douglas Ross’ understanding of this.
“We’re not requiring local authorities to chop the bottom off every door in every classroom across the country.
“But if it is the case, I’m struggling to believe that I’m having to take Douglas Ross through this in such a basic manner…
“If a door is hung in such a way that it is inhibiting the natural flow of air then one of the options that local authorities should have is to rectify that.”
“So that’s the first point, the second point is health and safety, of course, apply to all of the decisions that a local authority would make about deciding which measures to take.
“This is about Scottish Government giving local authority the financial wherewithal to do what they consider necessary to do the full ventilation in schools.”
The Scottish Government will provide a total of £4.3million to help 2000 “problematic” classrooms across the country.
The aim is to tackle the “persistently high CO2 levels” in these rooms.
It is expected the shortening of doors would cost around £150 per door with £2.4million also being spent on extractor fans for schools.