Fire safety issues ‘present in many boomtime apartments’

Kilmainham complex just one of many Celtic Tiger blocks with issues, surveyor says

Apartment owners at St James’s Wood in Kilmainham are facing a €3 million bill to remedy remedy fire-safety issues. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Apartment owners at St James’s Wood in Kilmainham are facing a €3 million bill to remedy remedy fire-safety issues. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Fire safety issues like those seen in a complex in Dublin 8 are common in many apartment buildings built during the boom, a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland has claimed.

Apartment owners at St James’s Wood in Kilmainham are facing a €3 million bill to remedy remedy fire safety issues that could lead to the shuttering of the development should fire inspectors be alerted.

“These are legacy issues from the period of the Celtic tiger when the industry was working at a very high capacity and skill sets were in short supply and these things got through the net,” said Noel Larkin, a chartered surveyor.

A series of fire safety reports seen by The Irish Times show multiple and widespread problems at St James’s Wood, including deficient lighting and alarm systems and walls that would not contain a fire in one of the apartments for the required length of time.

These problems are all in breach of the fire safety certificate issued for the Cosgrave-built property in 2000.

Under old building regulations, which were in operation from 1997 to 2013, a fire safety certificate was issued before a building ever went to site.

Mr Larkin said that effectively meant plans were rubber-stamped without the actual building being inspected.

“It says that if you build in accordance with these plans then your building will comply… because of the regime that was in place at the time, the follow-up on this was deficient,” Mr Larkin said.

“It’s not untypical that there wouldn’t have been a fire consultant signing off to say that his design in terms of the fire cert was actually met. If there was, none of these things would be coming up now,” Mr Larkin said.

“The SCSI said around the time of the Grenfell tragedy that it was aware that these issues existed around Dublin.”

New building regulations, introduced in 2014, sought to address the issue by providing for on-site inspections by an assigned certifier as part of a formal inspection plan.

“Now you have to must appoint an assigned certifier to actually physically go in and say I have seen these, there is traceability and ensuring that the thing is done right,” said Mr Larkin.