Grenfell Tower: Rotterdam University closes building due to ‘high risk of fire’ after inspection launched because of London tragedy

A Dutch university which had its buildings checked as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, has been forced to close one of its teaching buildings because it represents “such a high risk of fire and fire spread”. 

Rotterdam’s University of Applied Sciences said that cladding on the oldest section of its Kralingse Zoom building “did not meet current fire safety standards” and it had immediately closed it. 

Ron Bormans, its chairman of the board of directors, said it was an “extraordinarily unpleasant thought” that students and staff had been using a potentially dangerous location. 

“As a result of the fire in London, we had all our buildings checked,” he told local media, referring to June’s blaze in North Kensington that killed 71 people. 

“First internally, then externally. We thought: that will be fine. But it turned out that there was such a high risk of fire and fire spread, that it seemed in my view irresponsible to keep the building open.

“We realise that this is an extremely drastic decision, but the safety of our employees and students is our priority. We will do everything in our power to minimise the impact of this decision. All parties involved are carefully informed about the progress.”

Around 3,500 students from Rotterdam Business School and international programs are normally taught in building section C of the Kralingse Zoom.

The building closed and lessons and exams have been cancelled until early next week, a university spokesperson said. 

The university has now commissioned independent research into fire safety, with the final report expected next week.

Cladding installed during a 2016 refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower, is suspected to have aided the rapid and “unprecedented” spread of the blaze, trapping dozens of residents inside. 

The exact cause of the fire will be determined by the ongoing public inquiry but an interim report on fire safety found UK building regulations were “unfit for purpose”.