Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien has announced funding for interim fire safety measures to assist owners of defective apartments and duplexes in advance of a more comprehensive State support scheme being finalised.
Earlier this year, the minister received Cabinet approval for a scheme to address historic fire safety issues and other defects in apartments constructed between 1991 and 2013 worth up to €2.5 billion.
However, given there is estimated to be up to 100,000 affected buildings, a code of practice for remediating the defects recommended the implementation of interim measures in the short term.
The interim measures scheme, which opened for applications on Monday, will be administered by the Housing Agency on a nationwide basis. Apartment Owner Management Companies (OMCs) can make an application through the housing agency’s website.
The scheme will provide for the full funding of interim measures - such as fire alarm upgrades or replacements as well as making sure escape routes are safe - in order to provide an acceptable level of fire safety in buildings, pending completion of the full remedial works.
Full remedial works, which will include all necessary fire safety measures as well as those related to water ingress and structural damage, will be funded under a statutory scheme that will be legislated for next year. Work is already underway in the Department on drafting this legislation.
Mr O’Brien said the interim measures is an “important next step” in addressing defects.
“It will ensure that important measures can be put in place immediately to guarantee the long-term safety of the many thousands of apartment residents across Ireland,” he said.
The minister thanked the homeowners and their representatives, whose insights “have been an essential element that has allowed my Department, the Housing Agency and Local Authority Fire Services to put together this Scheme that will release funding for vital emergency measures in advance of the full statutory scheme being ready next year”.
The Construction Defects Alliance said the scheme opening is “a very significant step forward in sorting the issues affecting Celtic Tiger-era apartments”.
“This will thankfully prompt many OMCs to commission fire safety risk assessments to see if there are fire safety defects in their complexes. Where fire safety risk assessments have already been carried out for apartment developments then they can move on to getting interim works carried out,” he said.
“Significantly – at the request of the Construction Defects Alliance – the Interim Fire Safety Measures Scheme will include making escape routes safe as well as ensuring that they are well-lit and free of obstacles. We know of a number of apartment developments where escape routes are compromised from a safety perspective so it’s crucial for the residents of these complexes that their escape routes are made fire-safe.”