Fire safety move by SDCC after Grenfell Tower tragedy

By Mary Dennehy

SOUTH Dublin County Council is currently conducting a fire safety review of its multi-storey social housing buildings in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy – with an inspector being assigned to the Rua Red county arts centre, which has similar cladding to that used on the London apartment block.

In County Hall on Monday, council management confirmed the steps it has taken following the Grenfell Tower blaze, which includes social housing building inspections and letters being written to all private management companies to remind them of their statutory obligation to comply with fire safety regulations.

Tallaght stock views 18072017

Inspections on buildings above 18 metres or six storeys, many of which are based in Tallaght, are also taking place and are due to be finished by August 3.

Speaking with The Echo, county architect Eddie Taaffe said: “The council has always carried out quarterly checks on its buildings to make sure that all systems are maintained, like fire alarms, fire doors, and that escape routes are not blocked.

“However, after the Grenfell tragedy we have carried out a review and updated checks on all of our buildings and [in relation to private buildings] written to all management companies of multi-storey developments where the council has units of social housing to remind them of their statutory obligation to make sure all fire systems are operational.”

He added: “Apartment blocks over 18 metres [six storeys] are also being looked at separately, many of these are located in clusters, with the majority located in Tallaght, a few in Clondalkin and then a number of isolated blocks across the county.”

In relation to cladding, Mr Taffee said he is currently unaware of this material on local apartment blocks, but checks are ongoing.

He did however, confirm that the same cladding used in Grenfell Tower is located on sections of the Rua Red county arts centre in Tallaght.

A consultant is being assigned to examine the building, which has been found to be fully compliant with fire regulations, however the cladding will be assessed.

A number of motions were raised by local councillors at Monday’s council meeting concerning fire safety checks, which included the issue of self-certification.

People Before Profit councillor Madeleine Johansson, who tabled a motion, said: “Councillors also called on the Government [during the meeting] to look at the issue of self-certification for fire safety.

“Self-certification means that the person signing off is being paid by the builder or developer which may influence the process.

“Instead, an independent certification process would ensure that there is no pressure to sign off on an unsafe building.”

Councillors, who praised the council for taking “proactive steps”, also questioned why local authorities cannot check private buildings after the construction process – during which council officials carry out random spot checks on fire safety regulations.

A motion lodged by the Fianna Fáil group on the council asked that all multi-storey blocks “owned, managed or otherwise used” by the council will be subject to regular monitoring.

Fianna Fáil councillor Ed O’ Brien said: “We could have a number of social housing tenants at risk [in privately managed buildings].

“Maybe as a council we can take steps beyond what we would normally take to make sure that management companies are up to snuff.”

The council hopes to hear back from all private management companies and building owners that it has written to by July 19.

Anybody who has any concerns around fire regulation within their apartment block is encouraged to contact South Dublin County Council or their private management company.

If no action is taken, residents can report the issue to Dublin Fire Brigade, which can check that fire safety systems are operational.

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