Friday 22 November 2019

Woman and children among those facing evacuation from flats over serious fire safety concerns

Dublin City Council sought the order in respect of the building located in located at 3 Kelly's Row, Dublin 1, and including 20 Dorset Street in Dublin's north inner city, which contains four flats.
Dublin City Council sought the order in respect of the building located in located at 3 Kelly's Row, Dublin 1, and including 20 Dorset Street in Dublin's north inner city, which contains four flats.

By Tim Healy

A mother and four young children are among the residents who face evacuation from a block of flats over serious fire safety concerns.

Dublin City Council has applied to the High Court to have an unknown number of people - including the woman and the children all aged under six – removed from flats in a building in the north inner city.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nochoals Kearns, today granted an application by James Connolly SC, for the Council, to serve short notice of the proceedings on Frank Chatham and Joseph Simpson, owners of the property located at 3 Kelly's Row, Dublin 1.

The judge said the matter was urgent and returned it to tomorrow Friday.

Read more: Landlord agrees to evacuate residents from flats over fire safety concerns

The property is a four storey building accessed via Kelly's Row with a retail outlet on the ground floor of 20 Dorset Street which is not affected by the Council's application. There is no physical connection between that unit and the flats above it.

Fire brigade officers dealt with three incidents at the building since October 2014.

A fire safety notice took effect last March prohibiting use of the premises for residential/sleeping accommodation in multi-units, such as flats, until specified measures have been taken to the satisfaction of the fire authority, Thomas Daly, of Dublin Fire Brigade's fire prevention section, said.

The electricity was disconnected earlier this month and the only access to and escape from the flats is via a single staircase which itself is in "an unsafe condition", he added in an affidavit.

Mr Daly said, when he inspected the building on May 11th, there was "no evidence of any fire safety measures at the building".

He considered the risk to persons in the event of a fire was "so serious" that use of the building should be immediately prohibited until measures outlined in the fire safety notice were taken "to reduce the risk to a reasonable level".

Mr Daly said, when he inspected the building on May 11th last at the request of the fire bridage who were called to an incident there, he found four flats occupied and all flats "in use".

One of the occupants was a Romanian woman who said she had four children under six with her, another occupant said she lived there with her son and two other adult occupants would not give their full names.

The court also heard the building in "a more unsafe state" than previously, due to partition walls damaged with large holes.

Those would facilitate a more rapid spread of any fire, he said.

The fire brigade officer in charge requested the electricity be disconnected and the ESB did that, Mr Daly said.

When some occupants said they would have to use candles for light, he advised them that was dangerous, he added. 

The owners of the property, Mr Chatham, Arch Villas, Greystones, Co Wicklow and Mr Simpson, Tara Green, Ballymoney, Co Wexford, were served with a fire safety notice on March 27th last, Mr Daly said.

Mr Simpson had written on May 1st that the tenants were in the process of being moved from the premises, he said.

Mr Simpson also alleged 95pc of the items in the fire safety notice had been covered in renovations of 2007, outstanding issues were being rectified and the fire brigade would be kept up to date, Mr Daly said.

Mr Simpson had told him on May 12th he could not get the tenants to leave the building, Mr Daly said.

Earlier, he said Dublin Fire Bridage reported, after they were called to the building last March when a small fire occurred in a first floor room which was extingished by the residents, that families refused to leave the building.

Mr Daly said he inspected the building in March but could not gain access to a number of flats.

A view was taken the building was potentially dangerous, copies of a warning letter were posted to the owner of the building at the Kelly's Row address, to Frank "Chapman", Arch Villas, Greystones and hand delivered to the owner's agent. No response was received.

A Fire Safety Notice prohibiting use of the flats issued on March 4th and was posted to Mr "Chapman", Arch Villas, Greystones, and the Kelly's Row address. No appeal was lodged and the notice took effect on March 20th.

A letter was also sent to a children in care social worker on March 9th warning the building was considered potentially dangerous and a fire safety notice had been served. He believed no response was received.

A Land Registry search of March 13th showed No 3 Kelly's Row was acquired by Frank Chatham and Joseph Simpson and a fire safety notice was served on both men on March 27th at the respective addresses at Greystones and Ballymoney.

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