Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Questions (327)

Brendan Ryan


327. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the detail of advice in regard to staying in place or evacuating in the event of a high rise fire. [4808/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

The fire safety strategy and associated procedures to ensure the safety of people in buildings is the responsibility of the person having control over the premises. It is for the management of the building to implement the design strategy for fire safety and put procedures in place, including procedures for evacuation of the building, where necessary in the event of fire, and to ensure that all building occupants are aware of the arrangements in place.

In most buildings and circumstances, the safest approach and the default option is for all occupants of the building to evacuate in the event of fire or alarm. Special provisions are necessary for buildings, such as hospitals or nursing homes, where evacuation of patients or residents may not be feasible or advisable. Buildings containing flats are intended to have a degree of fire resistance, and in most circumstances fires won't spread further than one or two rooms beyond the room of origin.

In the case of buildings containing flats, the current fire safety guidance provides for two-stage fire detection and alarm. Firstly, each flat should be provided with its own internal domestic detection and alarm system, which gives an initial warning only within the flat when fire or smoke is detected. The strategy is that residents should evacuate, closing doors behind them, in the event of fire or alarm in their own flat. Secondly, for protection of the shared areas of the building, a fire detection and alarm system is provided to detect fire or smoke arising in the shared escape routes, or a developing fire in an individual flat which may begin to threaten the shared escape routes. This second system will give warning to residents throughout the building. Generally, where residents receive warning of a fire in the building, outside their own flat, they should evacuate the building.

In the case of very large or high rise buildings containing flats, there is provision for the fire detection and alarm system to initially warn the occupants in the areas of the building most likely to be affected by fire. In this way, a phased evacuation can be provided for; this helps to minimise disruption and to avoid congestion where large numbers of people are using stairways at the same time. Following the initial warning, the fire detection and alarm system can give warning in areas more remote from the fire.

Residents of premises containing flats should be informed regarding the strategy and arrangements in place in their particular building.

Where fire services attend a fire in a building containing flats, the Incident Commander may decide to instruct an evacuation of the building, or, where it is considered that a fire is small, with localised effects, and can be readily brought under control, they may advise residents to stay in place while the fire is brought under control.