National children’s hospital told install water sprinklers

The new national children’s hospital will have to install a water sprinkler system despite efforts by its development board to have this fire safety measure excluded.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) has been told by An Bord Pleanála to install sprinklers throughout the building, which ranges between four and seven storeys, as they would “limit the size of a fire”, control its spread, provide additional time to escape, limit fire damage, “be beneficial in terms of operational continuity”, and ultimately ensure that the hospital “achieves an adequate level of fire safety” to comply with fire safety and building regulations.

An Bord Pleanála said its decision, in line with the requirements of Dublin City Council, was informed by the nature, height, scale, form, and layout of the proposed hospital.

The direction from the planning authority runs contrary to the recommendation of its own inspector to delete the requirement for a sprinkler system as a condition of obtaining a fire safety certificate.

Yesterday, the NPHDB said it would comply with the Bord Pleanála ruling, as the planning authority believed these “additional measures would be beneficial” albeit they were “above and beyond what is set out in regulations and standards”.

The installation of a sprinkler system has been estimated to add another €2m to the €1bn-plus cost of the new hospital, which has been described as the most expensive children’s hospital in the world.

Two other conditions attached to granting of a fire cert were deleted by An Bord Pleanála and replaced by two alternative conditions:

  • That in the event of design changes to the atrium, a revised fire safety certificate application shall be required;
  • And that Christmas trees on the base of the atrium are to be limited to artificial type, with fire-retardant properties and a maximum height of 2.5m.

The NPHDB was notified of the Bord Pleanála decision yesterday. In a statement, it said: “We note that An Bord Pleanála’s inspector upheld our appeal on the condition relating to additional fire sprinkler provision, however the board of An Bord Pleánála decided not to accept the inspector’s recommendation.”

The NPHDB said it would comply with the ruling even though it believes the fire safety measures it had proposed were “both compliant with, and indeed exceeded, current fire safety regulations and healthcare design standards”.

The NPHDB had lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála after Dublin City Council granted a fire cert last May subject to four conditions, three of which NPHDB sought to have overturned.


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