After a fire destroyed part of its chemistry building on Sunday night, Salford University has urged fire-service unions to agree to respond to incidents in public institutions in the event of a national firefighters' strike, writes Alison Utley.
A university spokeswoman stressed that the fire had been dealt with promptly by the fire service but said any strike was a concern for all universities.
"We don't yet know the cause of the fire and there was no danger to any staff or students," the spokeswoman said. "But there is no doubt this could have been much more complicated."
David Harrison of Birmingham University, who advises the Universities and Colleges Employers' Association on health and safety, said a strike would have serious implications. "Institutions will need to reconsider their emergency planning, particularly as the fire service has said it will not deal with any chemical fires in the event of industrial action. This means universities need to think about turning off equipment at night and about taking other precautions."