Sunday 15 September 2019

Children's Hospital defends its appeal over fire safety plans

Katherine Zappone says the appeal is cost-related. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Katherine Zappone says the appeal is cost-related. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

The board of the new National Children's Hospital (NCH) has defended its fire safety plans after concerns were raised over the hospital applying for derogation from certain fire safety conditions.

The hospital's board appealed against three of four conditions which were included in a fire safety certificate issued by Dublin Fire Brigade.

It is understood the appeal to An Bord Pleanála was made in relation to the costs associated with the conditions issued.

The NCH, which will be located at the site of St James's Hospital, is expected to open in 2021.

It will amalgamate the three children's hospitals currently operating in the capital - Temple Street, Our Lady's in Crumlin and Tallaght.

A spokeswoman for the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) moved to play down any fears that the fire safety standards would not be to the required level.

A statement released by the hospital in response to reports yesterday said the €1bn hospital would be fully equipped with sprinkler systems.

The hospital says it has held extensive consultations with Dublin Fire Brigade in relation to its safety certificate application and is confident its proposals will exceed the minimum requirements.

"The provision of fire sprinkler protection planned for the new children's hospital will exceed the number that is set out within the fire safety regulation legislation," the statement read.

"A statutory process is under way in relation to a number of conditions relating to the fire safety certificate. A decision is expected from An Bord Pleanála (ABP) by year end and the NPHDB will comply with any fire safety requirements associated with ABP's decision."

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone told RTÉ yesterday that the appeals were cost-related.

Buildings spokesperson for the Social Democrats Cian O'Callaghan said the appeals made by the board were "alarming".

He said the conditions issued by Dublin Fire Brigade were sensible measures.

"Ireland has a poor track record in construction standards meeting fire safety standards in recent years and a shamefully weak record of enforcement," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"I'm calling on the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board to withdraw its application for a derogation of these fire safety requirements. It's important that the board shows leadership."

The hospital, however, has insisted patient safety is its number one priority.

"The safety of children attending the new children's hospital and that of their parents and visitors, together with hospital staff and the wider community, is the primary concern for all those involved in this project," it said.

The hospital will have two satellite centres along with the main building - located in Tallaght and Blanchardstown.

Construction at the satellite building in Blanchardstown, at the Connolly Hospital site, is due to begin today.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris will join representatives of the board and he Children's Hospital Group for the official sod-turning ceremony.

The building is expected to be used to provide urgent care to children in the Greater Dublin Area and is projected to deal with 25,000 urgent care patients each year.

Irish Independent

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