Seaforth Public School fire reveals asbestos threat

Date: Sep 15, 2015

Schools are an important staple of our local communities, providing outstanding educational opportunities to our next generation. As such, it is always sad to report when a school is severely damaged by fire as one was on Sydney's northern beaches on September 13.

Fire at Seaforth Public School

At around 10pm, the public reported a fire at Seaforth Public School on Kempbridge Avenue in Seaforth?. When emergency services arrived at the scene, large parts of the school were on fire and it took a number of hours to bring the blaze under control.

The suspicious fire destroyed at least five classrooms at Seaforth Public School with other buildings also receiving significant smoke and fire damage. On advice from fire services and the Department of Education, the school has closed its doors for the week.

The threat of asbestos

With specialist forensic officers on site, there is now another concern to deal with – asbestos fibres.

The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported comments from both Fire and Rescue NSW {spell out on first mention} and the Department of Education which suggests that the burned classrooms contained asbestos and this could pose a threat to the general public.

In fact, Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Darryl Dunbar told Fairfax Media that the 1950s-style timber structures, which are located on brick pylons, feature dangerous levels of asbestos simply due to the age of the buildings.

While asbestos has been banned from use in construction for a number of years in Australia, it is common among older buildings such as those in schools. In a dormant state, asbestos isn't harmful, however, disturbances such as fires and construction can cause the fibres to enter the environment.

The SMH reported that Department of Education spokesman Mark Davis said the demountables found at the scene are "different to the [modern] demountables that most people probably know, which can be unbolted and transported around in bits on the back of a truck". As such, these have a higher possibility of containing asbestos.

Asbestos in the community

Authorities at Seaforth Public School will look to determine the cause of the fire over the coming days. They'll also focus on cleaning up the asbestos and ensure the community and students are safe once the school reopens.

If you've come into contact with asbestos in public, you could be eligible for compensation. For more information on how this claim process works, contact an expert compensation lawyer today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.