Water Quality

Ceisteanna (313)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

313. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a situation in an area (details supplied) of County Kildare in which the water quality has changed will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4770/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

With effect from 1 January 2014 Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of public water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels.

Under the European Communities (Drinking Water) Regulations 2014, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas library, suppliers of drinking water are required to ensure that the water supplied is wholesome and clean. Water which is wholesome and clean is defined as water which is free from any micro-organisms and parasites and from any substances which in numbers or concentrations constitutes a potential danger to human health and which meets the quality standards specified in the Schedule to the Regulations.

Hard water and the minerals associated with hard water are not included as parameters in the quality standards specified in the Regulations as they do not pose a threat to human health. While hard water is safe to drink and meets the required drinking water standards, some households may choose to soften their supply but this is a matter of personal choice.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as the water quality regulator, is the supervisory authority for public supplies under the Regulations and local authorities are the supervisory authority for relevant private supplies, including group water schemes.

In the event of non-compliance with the quality standards set out in the Regulations, the water supplier will investigate the cause in consultation with the EPA and, if a potential risk to human health exists, with the Health Service Executive, to ensure that the appropriate remedial action is taken. The EPA publishes an annual report on the quality of drinking water supplies in Ireland which sets out details on the numbers of water restrictions and boil water notices. Copies of these reports are available in the Oireachtas library or from the EPA website (http://www.epa.ie).

Oireachtas Joint Committee Reports

Ceisteanna (314)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

314. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to a report entitled, Safe as Houses: A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection published by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government; and if the recommendations will be implemented. [4771/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I am fully aware of the report entitled Safe as Houses: A Report on Building Standards, Building Controls and Consumer Protection, published by the Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government last week.

It should be noted that in response to the many building failures that emerged in the last decade, my Department has been working on a building control reform agenda, including the following:

- the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which require greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification;

- working closely with the Local Government Management Agency on the oversight and governance of the local authority Building Control System to improve its effectiveness; and

- progressing primary legislation, the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017, to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector.

I will, of course, consider the recommendations contained in the report with a view to identifying any additional reasonable and appropriate measures that may be taken in the interests of strengthening the building control reform agenda underway, as well as increasing accountability and compliance in the construction industry.

Local Authority Housing Data

Ceisteanna (315)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

315. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of properties acquired by each local authority under the purchase and reuse scheme in 2017, in tabular form; the number of these homes that have been let to social tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4793/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department provides funding to local authorities to acquire a range of properties for social housing use. The properties involved can range from those in good condition to those that need remediation and may have been vacant. To ensure a local led response to such work, responsibility for property acquisitions is delegated to local authorities.

To further assist local authorities pursuing vacant properties, my Department introduced a Buy & Renew Scheme to facilitate local authorities in acquiring and remediating vacant properties that may be suitable for social housing. As with standard acquisitions, local authorities have delegated responsibility to utilise the Buy and Renew Scheme, as part of the blend of property acquisitions, as appropriate to their area, given housing need and the availability of properties of different types.

During 2017, provisional information shows that funding provided by my Department to local authorities supported the purchase of approximately 70 such homes under the scheme, details of which are set out in the following table.

 Local Authority

Homes

Clare County Council

1

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council

12

Fingal County Council

8

Kerry County Council

12

Limerick City & County Council

7

Meath County Council

11

Monaghan County Council

16

Offaly County Council

1

Tipperary County Council

1

I expect that over the course of 2018, further progress will be made in this area as local authorities close sales on properties identified during 2017 and put in place arrangements for their remediation to make them suitable for social housing use.

The allocation of social housing supports to qualified households is a matter for the local authority concerned, in accordance with its allocation scheme made in accordance with section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated Regulations.

Home Loan Scheme

Ceisteanna (316)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

316. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to revisit the stipulation that new build or second hand home purchases cannot exceed 175 sq. m in size (details supplied) in relation to the new Rebuilding Ireland home loan in view of house values in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4796/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Following a review of the two existing local authority home loan schemes, the House Purchase Loan and the Home Choice Loan, I am introducing a new loan offering, known as the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan, with effect from tomorrow, 1 February 2018. The new loan will enable credit worthy first time buyers to access sustainable mortgage lending to purchase new or second-hand properties in a suitable price range. The low rate of fixed interest associated with the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan provides first time buyers access to mortgage finance that they may not have otherwise been able to afford at a higher interest rate.

As with the previous local authority house purchase loan offerings, the properties that may be purchased with a Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan must have a gross internal floor area of 175 square metres or less which is equivalent to 1,884 square feet. This property size limit more than adequately provides, in terms of property size, for the range of accommodation needs of first time buyers and I have no plans, at this time, to revisit this provision.

Detailed information on the new mortgage is available on the dedicated www.rebuildingirelandhomeloan.ie website, from the information centre at 051 349720,  or directly from local authorities.

Fire Safety

Ceisteanna (317, 329)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

317. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there is a database accessible to each local fire station that includes the locations and notable details of the 292 multi-storied buildings throughout Ireland that utilise similar cladding to that which was used at Grenfell Tower in London. [4798/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

329. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if there are pre-fire plans between stations for specific multi-storied buildings in their adjoining precincts. [4810/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 317 and 329 together.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017,  fire authorities were requested to carry out a preliminary survey to identify buildings of more than six storeys, or more than 18m in height, fitted with external cladding or rain screen systems, with or without insulation, and to consider whether use of the power under Section 18 (6) of the Fire Services Act 1981, to require a fire safety assessment, is warranted in respect of identified buildings.

The work of identifying 842 buildings within the medium and high rise category has been undertaken by local authorities, 291 of which are identified as having certain categories of external cladding. After preliminary consideration, local authorities have requested the persons having control of 231 of these buildings to have detailed fire safety assessments carried out.

A guidance note – Fire safety Guidance Note 01 of 2017 Assessing Existing Cladding Systems in Buildings of More than Six Storeys, or More than 18m in Height – has been circulated to fire authorities and placed on my Department’s website as a support for those undertaking assessments of cladding in medium to high rise building.

In relation to providing information to crews in local fire stations, it is expected that information garnered by each local authority on the medium to high rise buildings in their functional area will be used as part of the basis for prioritising Pre-Incident Planning in each fire station area. Pre-Incident Familiarisation involves the crews in each fire station visiting the highest risk premises (for example, hospitals, nursing homes, institutions, industrial / Seveso plants, shopping complexes, etc.) in their station area, to familiarise themselves with the overall layout of the building(s) and the specific risks and fire safety features associated with the premises. A prelude to such visits usually involves the harvesting of information and preparation of site-specific “Pre-Incident Plans”.

Pre-Incident Planning and Familiarisation work is generally managed on a fire station-by-station basis, and selection of priority buildings for Pre-Incident Planning in each fire station area is best left to local judgement. However, additional information on medium-to-high rise buildings has been identified as part of the surveys carried out by fire authorities following the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London. While it is expected that many medium to high rise buildings would already be included in current pre-incident planning priorities of local fire stations, it is expected that any additional information on fire safety arising from the fire safety assessments will be factored into on-going Pre-Incident Planning programmes at local level.

Fire Safety

Ceisteanna (318, 319)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

318. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the risk-based approach reports are still utilised by first responders in each local fire station since its introduction in 2012. [4799/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

319. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the last time the risk-based approach report was updated. [4800/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 318 and 319 together.

In February 2013, my Department’s National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management published the policy document, “Keeping Communities Safe - A framework for Fire Safety in Ireland” (KCS).

KCS is the report on the outcome of a wide-ranging review of fire services in Ireland which was undertaken in 2011/2012, and was endorsed as national policy in early 2013. KCS is based on the internationally used systemic risk management approach and places emphasis on fire prevention and fire protection facilities in buildings, as well as on fire service response.

For the first time KCS sets national norms, standards and targets for the provision of safe and effective fire services in Ireland. Further, KCS identifies priorities and sets ambitious targets for reductions in annual fire loss, including fire deaths and reasserts the principle of the nearest available fire appliance being deployed to an emergency incident, irrespective of administrative boundaries.

Following the publication of KCS, each fire authority was requested to undertake an initial Area Risk Categorisation process for its functional area, using a process set out in Chapter 7 of KCS, and to prepare a short report on the process and outcomes. The Area Risk Categorisation process results in the area to which the first response is sent by each fire station, known as the ‘fire station ground’, being assigned a Risk Category(s) Grading, ranging across five grades, from very high, high, medium, low to very low risk.

Over the course of 2014/2015, the National Directorate’s Management Board's External Validation Group (EVG) visited every local authority in the country as part of a new external validation process on area risk categorisation in Ireland arising from implementation of KCS. In April 2016, the Board published the first EVG Report titled “Local Delivery - National Consistency”. The report concluded, inter alia, that:

- Fire Services are applying and refining internationally recognised risk management approaches to reduce the fire risk and the annual toll of life and property loss caused by fire.

- Local authorities are matching the assessed fire risk in their individual fire station areas with services based on both full-time and retained fire service models, with a comprehensive support infrastructure, and applying a range of appropriate fire prevention and fire protection approaches.

- Local authorities have prioritised and maintained the financial and personnel resources in their fire services at a time when they have implemented significant reductions in all other areas.

- Local authorities have benchmarked their fire services against national standards and national norms, and a strong degree of consistency, linked to area risk categorisation, now exists in fire service provision; all local authorities are using, or are working towards, national norms as minimum standards.

A copy of this report is available on my Department's website at the following link: http://www.housing.gov.ie/local-government/fire-and-emergency-management/fire-services-ireland-local-delivery-national.

A consultation exercise with staffing interests was commenced on 10 March 2016 with a view to identifying potential enhancements to the ARC process. It is intended to commence a second round of Area Risk Categorisation and associated external validation in 2018.

Fire Service

Ceisteanna (320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

320. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of fire appliances in service nationally. [4801/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

321. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of fire appliances in each local fire authority; and the number of the appliances in operation. [4802/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

322. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of fire appliances that are older than five, ten and 15 years, respectively. [4803/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

323. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of turntable ladder and aerial ladder platform appliances that are in service nationally. [4804/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

324. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of turntable ladder and aerial ladder platform appliances in each locality; and the number of those appliances that are in operation with an adequately trained crew. [4805/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

325. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of turntable ladder and aerial ladder platform appliances in each local fire authority that are older than 5, 10 and 15 years respectively. [4806/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

326. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of turntable ladder and aerial ladder platform appliances in each locality that were purchased new or purchased second hand respectively; and if purchased second hand, the age of the appliances when purchased. [4807/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 320 to 326, inclusive, together.

The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of fire station premises and fire appliances is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under the Fire Services Act, 1981. My Department supports the fire authorities through setting general policy, providing a central training programme, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding for priority infrastructural projects.

The information requested by the Deputy is not available in my Department. It is the understanding of my Department that the front-line fleet consists of approximately 280 Class B fire appliances and sixty other special appliances, including aerial appliance and emergency tenders. However, the Department is aware that fire authorities have further fire appliances in their fleets which are put to a variety of uses. Management of the number, type and age of fire appliances are a matter for each of the local authorities who have responsibility for the assessment of their individual fire cover needs, including the provision and management of a fleet adequate to their requirements.