UK firefighters have blasted "dangerous" practices at Leeds University after fire exits were tied shut in an apparent bid to enforce a campus COVID-19 lockdown.
But Leeds University hit back, stressing that the building in question was not being used to accommodate students during the pandemic.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) hit out at the university on Twitter after Scottish comedian Leo Kearse tweeted a picture of a gate fixed shut with plastic cable ties.
Coronavirus lockdown at Leeds Uni - the fire exit is chained shut for the health of the students pic.twitter.com/Ojo2vb0YRb— Leo Kearse - Scottish comedian (@LeoKearse) September 28, 2020
"Blocking a fire exit is incredibly dangerous - and it's illegal," the union said. "There are no two ways about it: blocking, locking and tampering with fire exits kills people."
— Fire Brigades Union (@fbunational) September 28, 2020
The FBU said the problem had since been fixed, but serious questions remained as to why it had been tied shut in the first place.
Several district fire brigades and individual firefighters had already tweeted their concerns about the locked gate, including the local West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
— North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service (@NorthYorksFire) September 28, 2020
— West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (@WYFRS) September 28, 2020
— Fire Engineer (@FireEngineer81) September 28, 2020
*CORRECTION: The headline and text of this article have been amended in order to reflect a new statement from the University of Leeds that it doesn't place students in this accommodation.