€50k bill to make 2001 homes fire safe

Homeowners in a complex where fire safety deficiencies have been discovered will have to pay up to €50,000 per home for remedial work, the Irish Examiner has learned.

€50k bill to make 2001 homes fire safe

Homeowners in a complex where fire safety deficiencies have been discovered will have to pay up to €50,000 per home for remedial work, the Irish Examiner has learned.

The deficiencies in the Verdemont Complex in Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, are by far the most costly uncovered since the building practices from the boom years were first uncovered in Priory Hall in 2011.

Homeowners were told the cost of the remedial in the 274 apartments and duplexes could be between €12m and €14m. The deficiencies came to light following a fire in May 2017 in which around 100 residents had to temporarily leave their homes.

Subsequent investigations uncovered major problems with firestopping and compartmentalisation in the complex, which was built in 2001 by McInerney Construction. The firm went out of business in 2011.

Following talks with Dublin Fire Brigade, fire wardens now patrol the complex 24/7 as a precaution in case of fire. The cost of such security is understood to be between €120,000 and €200,000 for which the owners are liable.

A previous fire in the complex in 2002 resulted in two fatalities, but no action was taken against the developer on that occasion despite a senior garda recommending a prosecution.

The jury at the inquest into the deaths of Mick Farrell, 23, and Louise Wall, 21, also expressed concern that there were safety problems in the complex but no further inspections were conducted.

The fire safety deficiencies were only subsequently exposed in the 2017 fire.

Families and friends of the deceased couple have for many years campaigned over what they claimed was the failure to properly determine whether the fire safety deficiencies could in any way have contributed to the deaths of their loved ones.

Ms Wall’s mother, Margaret, told the Irish Examiner her daughter’s death has never been properly investigated and nobody has been held to account for how the couple died in their own home in the fire.

“Every year goes by and we still have not had any questions answered about this,” she said.

One campaigner, Tony Rochford, became so frustrated at the lack of a response from State agencies that he performed a publicity stunt on the M50 in 2017, for which he is currently serving a prison term.

A spokesman for O’Connor Property Management, which acts on behalf of the owners management company in Verdemont, said he was not in a position to give a definitive figure on the cost of the remedial work.

“We have had wardens in since last April obviously as a precaution,” said the spokesman.

“We have to make sure that people are safe and make sure that the fire officer is happy while there are still concerns about safety standards.”

He said that three of five phases of the remedial work will be finished by April.

“We will be having another EGM for members in May where we’ll be able to five definitive times and costings for the final phases.”

Last year, the management company imposed a levy of €2,000 on each owner to pay for the initial assessment works on the remedial programme.

A spokesperson for Fingal County Council said Dublin Fire Brigade met consultants for the owners during the remediation phase.

“Dublin Fire Brigade are continuing to engage with the fire safety consultant during the remediation work which is being phased on a risk priority basis,” he said.

Following the 2017 fire at the Verdemont Complex, then social protection minister Leo Varadkar said his department has put emergency supports in place for residents. He promised his department would support all those affected.

This was a shocking fire which has seriously disrupted the lives of many people.

“I extend my sincere sympathies to everyone affected,” he said.

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