Fire Safety

Questions (327)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

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.

Fire Safety

Question No. 329 answered with Question No. 317.

Questions (328)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

328. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the process for an inspection of a residential building by a fire engineer; and the specific details that are inspected. [4809/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, responsibility for fire safety in buildings of all kinds (other than dwellings) is placed on the 'person having control' of each building, for example a Management Company in an apartment complex.

Inspections of buildings may be undertaken for many reasons and by many parties. Any member of the public who is concerned about fire safety in a building should contact the person having control of the building in the first instance and their local Fire Service if the concerns remain unresolved.

Local authority staff, including fire services staff, have powers of inspection, and where necessary enforcement, under the Building Control Act 1990 and the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003 and may undertake different forms of inspection for different purposes specified in the legislation referred to. Typically, in carrying out inspections under the Fire Services Act some or all of the following aspects will be reviewed:

- The passive or inbuilt fire safety features in a building, such as the layout and escape routes from the building and the construction of the building; the required passive fire safety features relating to the use of the building and the scale and occupancy. These features are generally set out in relevant guidance documents and codes of practice rather than in specific legislation or regulation;

- The active fire safety features, such as fire detection and alarm systems, which alert persons on the premises to the danger of fire and enable them to use the means of escape;

- The management of the building, including management of fire safety, to prevent fires occurring in the first place and to manage building services and fire safety to ensure that safety is not compromised.

Guidance documents and codes of practice for various sectors set out generic fire safety management requirements. This generally includes dealing with issues such as assignment of staff responsibilities, providing information on fire safety in the premises, training staff for those responsibilities, putting management/ oversight arrangements in place, holding evacuation drills/ reviewing incidents to practice/ learn fire safety, maintaining a fire safety register in respect of the premises etc.

A fire authority may require a 'person having control' over a building, or an owner or occupier of such a building, to carry out a fire safety assessment of such building and to notify the fire authority of such assessment. In such instances, the 'person having control' over a building may engage professional advisors to carry out these inspections and to assist with discharging their statutory duties; however, ultimate responsibility for fire safety in the building remains with the 'person having control'.

Question No. 329 answered with Question No. 317.