'Death-trap' school finally gets funding for fire alarm
A SECONDARY school described as a potential death trap is to get a fire alarm after serious safety concerns were highlighted in the Irish Independent.
The 800-pupil Good Counsel College in New Ross, Co Wexford, was refused funding in May for a fire alarm and smoke detection system under the summer works scheme operated by the Department of Education and Skills.
However, funding has now been provided following an appeal to the department. The new system will be installed over the coming few weeks.
"We are delighted to get the approval. It was worth whatever lengths we had to go to," school principal Fr John Hennebry told the Irish Independent.
The initial reason given in 2002 was that second-level schools in the Co Wexford town were going to be rationalised.
However, that has not occurred, nor is it likely to in the future. The application for a new fire alarm this year was refused on the grounds it was "desirable but not essential".
However, the existing fire alarm was old and did not meet current regulations, nor were there any battery-operated smoke detectors.
Due to the relatively remote and isolated location of the college and its grounds, an intruder system was also deemed necessary by management.
A consultant hired by the school warned that if a new alarm and smoke detection system was not installed "the college would remain a potential death trap in its lack of ability to notify occupants and the local authority in the event of a fire, and it would remain susceptible to intruders and anti-social behaviour".
Despite this appraisal, the application for funding was initially rejected.
The college was also refused money to replace old windows and upgrade 30-year-old science labs under a separate emergency works scheme.
However, the department has not approved new toilets and urinals to replace ones described as "woefully inadequate and constitute a major health and safety risk to all at the school".