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Fire Safety

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 17 April 2018

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Questions (1509)

John Lahart


1509. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the advice given to residents of high rise buildings in the event of fire breaking out - if it is to remain in the building or to evacuate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15056/18]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In accordance with section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003, it is the responsibility of the ‘person having control’ over the premises to ensure the safety of persons in the premises in the event of fire. The fire safety strategy and associated procedures to ensure the safety of people in any high-rise building is usually, therefore, the responsibility of the relevant management company. The management of the building puts procedures in place, including procedures for evacuation of the building in the event of fire, based on implementing the design strategy for fire safety in that building. It is the responsibility of the person having control also to ensure that all building occupants are aware of and practiced in the arrangements in place and that fire detection and alarm systems are operating and maintained in accordance with relevant standards.

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 a fire or a fire alarm being activated. Special provisions are necessary for buildings, such as hospitals or nursing homes, where evacuation of patients or residents may not be feasible or advisable.

In the case of buildings containing flats, the current fire safety guidance provides for two-tier fire detection and alarm systems. 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 intention is that residents should evacuate, closing doors behind them, in the event of a 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 in the shared escape routes, or a developing fire in an individual flat which may begin to threaten the shared escape routes. Buildings containing flats are intended to have a degree of fire resistance, to prevent the fire spreading beyond the flat of origin. This second system will give warning to residents throughout the building. Generally, unless alternative procedures are specified, where residents receive warning of a fire in the building, 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, phased evacuation can be provided for. Following the initial warning, the fire detection and alarm system can give warning in areas more remote from the fire.

In all cases, residents of premises containing flats should be informed by the ‘person having control’ 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.

Question No. 1510 answered with Question No. 1507.