Fire safety inspections needed, says Higgins

Boom-era properties may not be safe, says Socialist TD

More than 200 apartments in Belmayne off the Malahide Road, including that of Del Tillyer, were last year found to be in need of extensive repairs due to fire safety problems with the structure of the buildings. Photograph: Dave Meehan

More than 200 apartments in Belmayne off the Malahide Road, including that of Del Tillyer, were last year found to be in need of extensive repairs due to fire safety problems with the structure of the buildings. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 01:00



A national inspection system to investigate the fire safety of boom-era housing developments must be undertaken as a matter of urgency, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has said.

Mr Higgins was speaking at a house in Belmayne in north Dublin yesterday which, its owners claim, is a potentially lethal fire hazard because of the shortcuts taken in its construction.

More than 200 apartments in Belmayne off the Malahide Road were last year found to be in need of extensive repairs due to fire safety problems with the structure of the buildings. An inspection by Dublin Fire Brigade’s chief fire officer revealed defects in the timber- framed construction of the houses which meant the buildings could not meet regulations.

The defects came to light in January 2012. Dublin City Council said the remediation work has been completed in 215 apartments, work is due to start in a further eight shortly, but the residents of nine more where work is needed are refusing access to their properties. A spokesman for the council said its fire prevention officer had confirmed that once the remedial works were completed as agreed, this would address any fire safety concerns.

Mr Higgins said the problems highlighted in Belmayne were indicative of a wider issue with houses and apartments built during the boom which had been subject to a lax inspection regime.

“What we have seen today is another example of the boom-era workmanship whereby overpriced houses and apartments have been demonstrated to contain catastrophic structural flaws which in this particular case potentially endangers life in the event of a fire. This is a State-wide problem with timber-framed houses built during the boom and not simply a matter for Belmayne.”

Emergency fund
Mr Higgins said an emergency fund should be established so that residents of defective homes would be “spared the ordeal” of having to take action against developers and other professionals who wrongly signed off on compliance measures, declaring houses had adequate fire protections when they had not.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan last year asked local authorities to step up their inspections of housing developments that may pose fire safety risks to residents. A spokesman for the department said feedback from local authority inspections had been incorporated into the revised building standards published earlier this year.