TDs and Senators hear concerns over new fire safety regulations for complex buildings

Latest measures do not extend requirement for sprinklers in underground car parks, Oireachtas Committee on Housing told

New building regulations do not contain regulations on the construction of complex buildings such as high-rise wooden constructions, TDs and Senators have been told.

The Oireachtas Committee on Housing was also told that while the new regulations provide for the installation of sprinklers in multi-unit dwellings such as nursing homes, they do not cover underground car parks – an increasing cause of concern for Dublin Fire Brigade.

The regulations, known as Technical Guidance Document B (TGDB) cover issues in relation to early warning of fire; means of escape; the potential spread of fires internally and externally as well as access for fire fighters.

However, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin asked Dublin Fire Brigade chief fire officer Dennis Keeley to confirm the fire brigade had concerns that planning conditions requiring sprinklers had, in the past, been removed by An Bord Pleanála, in appeals taken by developers.


Mr Ó Broin also asked Sarah Neary, principal adviser at the Department of Housing if it would have been better that regulations covering complex buildings had been included in TGDB. He asked if she might be able to say when such technical guidance would be issued.

In his submission to the committee Mr Keeley said he acknowledged “the significant work” that has gone into the development and publication of the technical guidance.

“There are many changes with notably move towards an adoption of sprinklers systems, in certain occupancies like nursing homes, and apartment buildings and student accommodation greater than 15m in height, which DFB particularly welcomes,” he said.

However, “the scope of the newly published TGDB 2024 does not extend to complex buildings and therefore prima facie compliance with building regulations cannot be achieved through TGDB”, he said.

In relation to complex structures including high timber frame buildings he said: “I hope that guidance on these buildings will be included in the considerations of the [Department of Housing appointed] research group”.

In relation to fire spreading via external cladding, he said an assessment had been carried out, following fires abroad, and low numbers of buildings, possibly only two, were identified as causes of concern. He said one of these was empty and the second was undergoing remedial action.

“It is important to remember that the safety of people in buildings is paramount. It is the very tenet of the building regulations,” he said.

“This includes everyone, either the people using or living in a building but also the fire fighters,” he said.

He said he was aware of an interdepartmental and industry steering group on timber construction and he was hopeful that research in the area would address “the issues and challenges”.

In response to Mr Ó Broin, Ms Neary said work was ongoing on having technical guidance for complex buildings.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist