Fire safety in apartments

 

Sir, – In recent days, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has published a revised building regulations technical guidance document for fire safety. It’s clear from the text that the reason for so doing is to change the fire safety standards in new apartments.

To improve fire safety for people in apartments? Consider the following.

The new standards permit there to be just one single escape route from anywhere in the flat, including any bedroom to a safe place, to be up to 20 metres long (20 metres – think about that one), and to be totally open to the kitchen, so long as you come no nearer than 1.8 metres of the cooker.

There is no requirement to have a bedroom window suitable to escape through, and no requirement to surround the kitchen with a fire wall. And the structure may be timber floors and walls.

Have the officials lost their reason altogether? Have they forgotten what can happen in a block of flats if people are asleep when a fire starts?

Do they think that a little trickle of water from a sprinkler will quench the toxic smoke from the oil in a burning chip pan?

The Building Regulations Advisory Body has not been convened for years now. But there is no way that the board on which I and more illustrious colleagues served for six years would have condoned this outrage. – Yours, etc,

EOIN Ó COFAIGH,

Dublin 4.