Chief fire officer will be invited to a meeting
Cathaoirleach of Bray Municipal District Christopher Fox told members that he intends to invite the chief fire officer of Wicklow County Council Aidan Dempsey to discuss fire safety in the council's housing stock.
'The Grenfell tragedy was a local authority apartment block,' said Cllr Fox. 'Serious concerns have since been raised among residents of local authority housing stock.'
He proposed inviting Mr Dempsey to a meeting to take questions and queries. Cllr Fox said that while there has been focus on a full-time fire service, there are other issues like fire resistant material, wiring, whether all buildings have smoke alarms. 'I certainly would like to have a good long discussion on the whole issue of fire safety, and leave the issue of a full time fire service for another day.'
Cllr Fox said that fire safety issues had been raised in Oldcourt, and that there are other estates which were not designed for today's loading on wiring.
Cllr Michael O'Connor asked if the meeting could be as soon as possible as it is an issue of public concern. The Cathaoirleach said that they would contact the chief fire officer and see what his availablity is.
Cllr Joe Behan said that he understands Cllr Fox's point of view regarding having the meeting about issues other than a full-time fire service, but that it would be no harm for him to give his view. 'I'm not saying it has to be the whole meeting, but I don't think we should have a meeting with the fire officer without mentioning the issue, rather than it being out of bounds.'
Cllr Fox said that he was conscious that other issues could get lost in the discussion.
Cllr Steven Matthews said that one of the jobs a full time fire service could do would be carry out risk assessments and the members could point that out to the chief fire officer. He said that the Grenfell tragedy highlighted the terrible consequences of fire hazards.
Cllr Pat Vance said that it should be separate. 'There is an urgency to talk to the chief fire officer about the problems that may be out there in houses we are responsible for,' he said. Cllr Vance said that there are a few thousand in County Wicklow, including about 1,000 in Bray.
'I'd prefer to go down that route first. I've no problem discussing the other issue, but it will get confused.'
Cllr Fox said that he is aware of local authority houses which do not have smoke alarms. He said that perhaps a discussion about a full-time service could be facilitated at a later date. 'I don't want the debate to get sidetracked,' he said.
'I don't think it'll get sidetracked,' said Cllr Behan. 'It's not a question of either/or. They're all important. There hasn't been a discussion with the chief fire officer on this issue. It is a big issue in Bray Municipal District. I certainly am going to be raising it.'