Longboat Quay: ‘Firetrap’ building put 200 residents at risk

The evacuation of residents in more than 200 flats in a prestigious Dublin development was considered after the discovery of major construction flaws that rendered the buildings firetraps.

Longboat Quay: ‘Firetrap’ building put 200 residents at risk

The discovery of the serious structural deficiencies in the Longboat Quay development in Dublin’s docklands occurred during a routine inspection last June, eight years after the buildings were constructed by former developer, Bernard McNamara.

The deficiencies included the construction of walls that were inadequate for the containment of fire and an absence of smoke vents — regarded as vital to preserve life during fires.

A range of other deficiencies was also identified after a series of investigations following the initial discovery. Most of the deficiencies mirrored those that led to the evacuation of the Priory Hall development in 2011.

Following consultation with Dublin Fire Brigade, it was agreed that evacuation of Longboat Quay could be avoided by having fire marshals on constant patrol in the two six-storey blocks. The marshals have been in situ since last June.

A number of residents have told the Irish Examiner they were unaware of the seriousness of the situation, both in terms of personal safety and the value of their property. A meeting for all residents was convened last summer, but it is unclear how much emphasis was placed on the issue at hand in advertising the meeting.

As previously reported in the Irish Examiner, the fire alarm system was also found to have been highly deficient. The Irish Examiner has also learned two apartments have been sold since the major flaws were discovered. It is unknown whether the vendors or purchasers of the units were fully informed as to the extent of the problems. Among the other owners in the 298-unit development are the family of former president Mary McAleese, who bought two apartments for just under €1.2m in 2007.

It is also understood that a number of residents have sought legal advice in relation to deteriorating condition in their apartments due to damp and mould.

The development was built at the height of the property boom, and during a time when a self-assessment regime meant there was minimal inspection during construction to ensure design standards were being maintained.

A spokesman for Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), which is still in control of the common areas in the development, said the structural work is due to commence after work on upgrading the alarm system is complete.

“The DDDA and its advisors have worked closely with all relevant authorities, and in particular Dublin Fire Brigade, since this issue arose last summer, he said.

“We have agreed a programme of works that will be implemented to deal with the various issues in the development. That programme began by prioritising the shortcomings in the fire alarm system which are now close to completion. Other, structural work will commence in due course.”

The cost of the remedial works is another issue that has not been addressed. The spokesman said it was agreed that the imperative was to begin remedial works and that the division of cost between the DDDA and residents would be agreed later.

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