Limerick fire service had 'considerable difficulty' in identifying building owners

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Grenfell Tower, London

Grenfell Tower, London

FIRE safety concerns have been identified relating to at least one multi-storey building in Limerick, in the wake of last year’s fire at Grenfell Tower in London, which claimed more than 70 lives.

It can also be revealed that Limerick Fire Service has had “considerable difficulty in determining ownership of buildings or persons in control of buildings” which are to be assessed as part of a national review ordered by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy.

The Limerick Leader has also learned that chief fire officer, Michael Ryan, has threatened to initiate enforcement proceedings against a number of property owners who have failed to carry out fire safety assessments - despite being asked to do so.

Last July, local authorities across the country were instructed to “identify buildings incorporating cladding or cladding systems that may be a cause for concern in respect of potential for rapid spread of fire”.

In a circular issued by Sean Hogan, National Director for Fire and Emergency Management, councils were instructed to require the owners or occupiers of buildings more than six storeys high to carry out a fire safety assessment where appropriate.

“It should consider if the passive and active fire measures in the building, as well as management of the fire safety in the premises, are to an appropriate standard, and commensurate with the use of occupancy of the premises,” states the circular.

Documents obtained by the Limerick Leader show Limerick Fire Service identified 37 residential buildings, within its administrative area, which are more than six storeys tall.

While visual inspections were conducted by fire service personnel, chief fire officer Michael Ryan requested, in August, that fire safety assessments be carried out relating to 36 of the properties and that a copy be forwarded to the fire authority within eight weeks.

However, documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show that just seven assessments were received by the end of November.

Having reviewed those assessments, the fire authority indicated, in a report to the department in January, that “further action” was warranted in relation to one of the buildings.

This, the report stated, was because “the fire safety assessment gives rise to concern regarding the fire safety of the building”.

No other details relating to the building have been disclosed and it’s not known what action was taken.

The documents show the fire authority informed officials at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government that by the end of January it had not received any correspondence relating to 17 of the properties which had been identified.

Letters sent by Michael Ryan warn the recipients the failure to comply with the request (to carry out a fire safety assessment) “will leave the Fire Authority with no option but to consider enforcement action”.

Fire safety assesments have also been requested in relation to 17 non-residental multi-storey buildings in Limerick.

By the end of January, just one assessment had been received by Limerick Fire Service.