Thursday 20 June 2019

Ath Leathan apartments are 'not the only ones with fire faults'

Apartment blocks at Ath Leathan on Dundalk’s Racecourse Road have been identified as having fire safety issues following surveys carried out on Block A
Apartment blocks at Ath Leathan on Dundalk’s Racecourse Road have been identified as having fire safety issues following surveys carried out on Block A

Anne Campbell

Major faults identified in fire safety at apartments on the Ath Leathan estate are 'not the only ones' to be found in flat complexes in Dundalk, it has been claimed and there has been a call for the council to ensure that multi-unit developments are the focus of more checks.

The Irish Times revealed at the weekend that residents in the apartments could face eviction after Louth County Council's fire officer, Eamon Woulfe, wrote to the apartments' management company, warning that action would be taken under the Fire Services Act 'to prohibit the use of these buildings for residential purposes' unless fire safety works, estimated at €1.4 million, are undertaken.

Cllr. Mark Dearey was earlier today attempting to have the issue raised as an emergency motion at tonight's meeting of the Dundalk Municipal District Committee.

Alan Grehan of Oriel Property Management, which manages Racecourse Property Management, said it was his company that brought the fire safety deficiencies to the attention of the council and revealed that the fire safety problems came to light when apartments, owned by the developer, were put up for sale and a third party commissioned a survey of the properties.

Mr Grehan, a former independent county councillor, said the fire safety report commissioned for one block of apartments at Ath Leathan revealed fire safety issues and because Block A surveyed is 'identical' to the others, it is believed all of the 72 apartments in eight blocks are affected.

The report, from Pro Fire and Design, reveals cavity barriers were 'not provided as outlined in the granted fire safety certificate application' and there were 'numerous issues through fire rated walls and floors that were inadequately fire-stopped to maintain the integrity of the fire rated walls and floors'.

In addition, the report highlighted 'fire doors, fire alarms and emergency lighting systems didn't meet required standards'.

Ath Leathan was built around ten years ago by McGreevy Enterprises, controlled by Hilltown-based brothers, Gerald and Sean McGreevy.

It is understood the Ath Leathan apartments' issue came to light when the developers sought to sell a number of the flats they still own on the estate and the potential purchaser requested a survey be carried out.

When the potential problems were identified, the management company commissioned a more extensive fire safety report which detailed the issues with apartments in Block A.

It has been estimated that work to rectify the fire safety problems could cost between €10,000 to €20,000 per apartment, with disruption to households expected to take place while the work is carried out.

Residents from the Ath Leathan apartments are to attend an Emergency General Meeting of the management company that will be held at the Ballymascanlon Hotel next Tuesday, May 10 where they are expected to hear how and when the remedial works will be carried out, and who may have to pay for it.

The management company is to take legal advise about the matters highlighted in the report ahead of the EGM.

Louth County Council told the Argus: 'A letter dated 20 April 2016 was received from McGreevy Enterprises advising that they are following up so as to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

'The Fire Prevention Section will be following this matter up over the coming weeks'.

Mr Grehan revealed that while the fire safety problems at Ath Leathan are serious, the apartments are among three in Dundalk alone that he is aware there are concerns about.

He said: 'We are aware there are three in Dundalk alone, among five in County Louth, where there are fire safety concerns about multi-unit developments. And these can't be the only ones - it's happening all over the country'.

Mr Grehan said he would like to see the council writing to all management companies who look after apartment developments in Louth asking for fire safety reports to be carried out 'so we can know the scale of the problem'.

Cllr. Dearey said there was 'important work to be done to ensure that residents are looked after properly' and added: 'I expect the developers to cover the cost of the work'.

The Green Party representative said he also wanted to see multi-unit developments 'the focus of the work of the council's fire officers going forward from now'.

Irish Independent