Irish News

Saturday 2 August 2014

Family forced to leave 'death-trap' home

Breda Heffernan

Published 26/03/2013|04:00

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A FAMILY who moved out of a "death-trap" home has vowed not to return until it has been made safe.

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Paul Kavanagh said he was horrified to discover there was no fire protection under his son's room, meaning a blaze in a neighbouring apartment could spread rapidly.

Mr Kavanagh was carrying out renovations in November when he lifted some floorboards under nine-year-old Daniel's bed and saw through to the floor space of a neighbouring apartment. A concrete wall with no gaps should have completely separated the flats, he said.

Mr Kavanagh, his partner Denise Murphy, Daniel and his 18-month-old brother Cillian have moved out of the apartment at Foxford Court in Lucan, Co Dublin.

"Daniel's bed was directly over where we lifted the floorboards," said Mr Kavanagh.

"If there was a fire next door the smoke would have been rising up into his room. He wouldn't stand a chance."

The Kavanaghs are among a number of residents who have raised concerns about a lack of fire protection at the 52-unit development, which was built by Newlyn Developments and sold by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) as affordable housing.

Resident Paul Coleman questioned fire safety at Foxford Court in 2005 when he found pipes in his bathroom were not fire-sealed to prevent the spread of flames and smoke.

He was reassured by the developer that the building met fire regulations.

Responsibility

However, an independent inspection of two units last month confirmed the lack of "fire stopping", and a wider inspection is to be carried out.

Mr Kavanagh said he had made repeated efforts to get the council to take responsibility for installing fire stopping.

"However, we are beating our heads off the wall and getting nowhere quickly," he said.

"Basically, they sold units that were not fit for purpose. In effect, they sold us a death trap for affordable housing."

SDCC said building controls were regulated through a self-certification process by the developer and it had no direct involvement in this.

Newlyn said it built Foxford Court on behalf of the council and handed the properties over, having complied with regul-atory issues and having received appropriate certification.

It said it was not aware of the existence of any report regarding fire safety issues.

"We are prepared to engage with all relevant stakeholders if requested to do so in the normal way," it added.

Irish Independent

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