‘Inadequate fire-stopping’ at housing estate

A report into fire safety on the Kildare housing estate where six homes were burnt to the ground in just 30 minutes has highlighted widespread fire safety concerns.

According to the report, the walls that separated the houses had “numerous deficiencies”, including “inadequate fire-stopping”.

The report found that the timber frame partitions did not run to the underside of the roof of the houses and “were moving when pressure was applied”.

In addition, boards were not fixed to studs in the walls and cavity barriers were not provided, both features which enhance the fire resistance of the walls, and both required under basic fire safety design.

The report, compiled by leading fire consultants Michael Slattery and Associates, recommended the walls will have to be properly built, which will require that roof tiles are removed “over separating walls for a distance of 1m to 1.5m.”

The chimneys were also found to have been improperly installed, presenting further fire safety issues.

Following the fire on March 31, Kildare County Council commissioned a report into the six houses to investigate whether reasons could be ascertained as to why the six destroyed houses had burnt so quickly.

Fire safety design instructs that walls separating houses be constructed in a manner that allows for an hour before fire can spread from one house to the other. By that standard, it should have taken the fire at least three hours before it could spread right across the terrace.

The results from the investigation suggest that the fire safety deficiencies are widespread through the 80-house estate, which also includes six blocks of apartments.

The report was presented to residents’ representatives by council officials last week. The group were told it was up to them to have their own homes investigated and any remedial works undertaken. Three councillors who were present were denied copies. The meeting was described as “highly emotional”.

One of the group, Sharon Conway, said that she would not comment on the report as the group had not yet informed all the residents about its contents.

“We’re meeting back up with the council again and then we’ll know more,” she said. “We put a proposal to the council and we want to see what they say. After that we will organise a meeting with all the residents.”

Independent councillor Willie Crowley has written to the council executive calling for a €400,000 bond that the council holds on the estate to be made available for the remedial work.

“I believe the council has a moral if not a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of all homeowners who purchased their houses in good faith and now have to ensure that they are safe to sleep in,” said Mr Crowley.

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