03:29 GMT27 February 2021
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    The Fire Brigades Union tweeted that serious questions remained over how the decision was taken to seal a fire exit gate shut with cable ties after Leeds University remedied the illegal safety hazard.

    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.

    ​"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."

    ​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.

    ​Thousands of students attending at least 33 universities across the UK have been forced to isolate in their halls of residence after recent outbreaks of coronavirus. They cannot attend lectures, despite paying up to £9,000 per year in fees, and many have been told they will not be able to go home and spend Christmas with their families. 

    *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.


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    Fire Brigades Union, lockdown, coronavirus, COVID-19, University of Leeds, universities
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