‘Firetrap’ conditions a real danger to residents, solicitor warns

Cllr Mick Barry: cutbacks in housing maintenance budgets have created problems city-wide.

Conditions in a firetrap local authority complex in Cork present its residents with a “clear, present and immediate danger” to their health and safety, a solicitor has warned.

Nineteen residents of Mount Farran Place in Blackpool, Cork, are now considering “all forms of action available to them” in a bid to force the city council to address their concerns.

They have engaged solicitor Donal Daly, of Daly, Derham Donnelly, to fight their case. In a letter to the city manager earlier this month, he said his clients were forced into this action out of frustration with the lack of action on the council’s part to tackle a range of maintenance issues at the three-storey complex.

A consulting engineer inspected the complex on their behalf, and has issued a damning report.

“The report speaks for itself and speaks to a high degree of failure on the city council’s part to meet the obvious and genuine concerns of the residents,” Mr Daly said.

“It is also quite clear that due to the bad condition of these apartments they present a clear, present and immediate danger to the health and safety of our clients.

“We are instructed to put you on notice that if any injury or illness is caused to any of our clients or their families as a result of the failure to rectify the above problems, we will use this letter for the purpose of bringing to the attention of the courts in any future litigation the fact that Cork City Council have been put on notice of these defects prior to the occurrence of any such injury or illness.”

He gave the council time to outline its plans, but as of last night it had not responded to him.

The council was not in a position to respond to media queries yesterday.

The engineering report says the complex was built long before the current building regulations came in to effect and that bringing it up to meet current standards would require huge disruption and expenses.

But it says there is an onus on all landlords to do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of their tenants.

“I consider that in the current situation, the city council has not done all that is reasonably practicable and indeed that very significant increases in safety could be achieved with relatively minor expense,” it says.

Socialist Party Cllr Mick Barry said cutbacks in the council’s housing maintenance budgets have created huge problems city-wide. “What is happening at Mt Farran Place is just the latest example of it,” he said.

Major concerns

The residents commissioned an engineering report which has highlighted the following concerns:

- All the apartments lead out on to the same, external, unprotected stairway. A fire at ground level could engulf or block this only exit. There is a distinct possibility that the occupants of the upper apartments could be trapped in the event of a fire.

- The treads on the access stairway are in general 220mm wide — the minimum allowed for private stairs under 1991 regulations — and should be 275mm.

- Drains are continually backing up.


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