Call for rejuvenated fire safety regime after Grenfell

A report prompted by the Grenfell tragedy in London should pave the way for a rejuvenated fire safety regime, according to the body representing the country’s Chief Fire Officers.

The Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) made the call following the publication of the Department of Housing’s ‘Fire Safety in Ireland’ report, which found that “the apparent conditions which gave rise to the Grenfell Tower tragedy do not appear to be present in buildings in Ireland”.

However, it made a number of recommendations on how fire safety in Ireland could be improved. These include:

  • A call for further research into the fire safety measures in Irish homes;
  • The adjustment of some fire station area boundaries to improve response times;
  • Reviews of fire safety in local authority provided social housing;
  • The introduction of serious sanction — including eviction — for any tenant found removing a fire alarm from their home.

However, while welcoming the recommendations, CFOA chairman, Dave Carroll, warned that proper resources must be put in place to follow through on the suggestions outlined in the report.

“It is my hope, and indeed my belief, that this report will serve as the foundation stone for the development of a reinvigorated fire safety regime in Ireland, said Mr Carroll, who is also chief fire officer with Tipperary Fire and Rescue Service.

“The key, as with all such reports, will lie in resourcing the work throughout the implementation phase, and maintaining this life-saving work on an ongoing basis afterwards.”

While noting the finding that a tragedy similar to the Grenfell fire is unlikely in Ireland, Mr Carroll warned that “we do not live in a society free from risk”.

“Coupled with sound fire safety engineering, this risk is best mitigated by people taking personal responsibility for their own safety and exercising appropriate behaviours with regard to fire safety.

“Therefore implementing the recommendations of the Fire Safety in Ireland report is significantly important,” he said.

“The CFOA welcome the proposed additional regulation under section 37 of the Fire Services Acts that would require an identified person to be appointed in specified multi-occupancy premises that would ultimately be responsible for the implementation of precautions set out in relevant Codes of Practice and Guides to Fire Safety.

Fire safety is not just a matter for the fire service. For fire safety to be truly successful it requires the buy-in of the community, public bodies and individuals.

“To this end local authorities must work in an integrated fashion in exercising their various regulatory aspects on projects such as planning, building control and fire safety,” Mr Carroll said.

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