Thursday 22 February 2018

Staff shortages may hinder Irish fire safety inspections in wake of Grenfell tragedy, Chief Fire Officer

Stock picture
Stock picture

Rebecca Lumley

Local authorities are best placed to inspect fire safety requirements of buildings, but are currently too short staffed to do so, according to the Dublin Fire Brigade’s Chief Fire Officer.

Patrick Fleming told Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 that more resources are needed to carry out building control inspections around the country, which are set to evaluate the safety of units over 18 metres tall.

A review of staffing levels is underway, he said.

Mr Fleming acknowledged that the self-certification system employed during the Celtic Tiger had left some residents in dwellings with sub-standard safety requirements and said his “heart went out to them.”

Grenfell Tower (Frank Augstein/AP/PA)
Grenfell Tower (Frank Augstein/AP/PA)

“It’s our role as a statutory organisation to work with them as much as possible in order to alleviate the risk of fire and the consequences of that,” he said.

This comes as Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy announced a new taskforce to review fire safety in Ireland in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.

The minister has asked local authorities to review fire safety in the multi-storey social housing sector and to report back in three weeks.

The Residential Tenancies Board has been instructed to notify all landlords of their responsibilities in relation to fire safety requirements.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the Grenfell tragedy would be a "game-changer in terms of how we deal with buildings for life safety inspection, fire-safety inspection and everything else".

"The first responsibility that I think we have here is to make sure there are life safety and fire-safety measures in place in all multi-story buildings," he said.

He said reports from local authorities would be submitted by July 19, but did address the “lack of resources” raised by Mr Fleming.

“In terms of the work we have to do now, we’re just making sure the buildings that people are working and living in are safe,” he said.

Mr Murphy's department intends to meet local authority chief fire officers in the coming weeks.

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