Basic high-rise fire safety not tackled in draft report, says taskforce member

The staff firefighter representative on the taskforce set up to examine fire safety in high-rise buildings has rejected the draft report of the body, pointing out that it does not address basic fire safety issues.

The taskforce was set up by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze in London last June in which 71 people died. Its final report is due to be published before the end of April.

The staff representative on the taskforce has informed chairman Sean Hogan that he and others feel compelled to write a minority report over their serious concerns.

In a letter to Mr Hogan, Tom Daly says alleged shortages of resources in recent fires in “medium to high-rise buildings where the public had to be evacuated from their homes” have not been considered by the taskforce.

“This matter has been raised continuously at the task group meetings,” states Mr Daly.

“It has been made known to the chair of the task group that there have been a number of fire incidents in high-rise buildings in Ireland since the Grenfell Tower fire. The chair of the task group has failed to request this information from each fire authority.”

The letter points out that the title of the draft report — Fire Safety In Ireland — may “mislead” the minister and public into believing the report is about more than what was looked at, which was high-rise buildings and particularly in relation to the cladding of high-rise buildings.

“As noted by some members of the group, we have not looked at fire safety in buildings below the height of 18m,” states Mr Daly.

“As was pointed out at the meeting, continuing to have this title could ultimately call into question the whole credibility of the task group.”

The letter says questions not adequately addressed by the report include:

  • Whether the various fire authorities around the country are suitably resourced for an emergency response to deal with a fire in medium- to high- rise buildings;
  • What is the department’s emergency response and evacuation strategy for residents living in high-rise apartments;
  • What advice should be given by staff who take the emergency calls by residents in high-rise buildings when they call in reporting a fire.

The letter was sent earlier this month before the fire in the Metro Hotel in Ballymun in Dublin on Wednesday.


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