Tag Archives: Fire safety

Belmayne Educate Together National School, Dublin; Cian O’Callaghan

Fire safety audits commissioned by the Department of Education have found breaches of fire safety standards at five recently-built primary schools.

The schools are Gaelscoil Clocha Liatha in Greystones, Co Wicklow; Mullingar Educate Together, Westmeath; Powerstown Educate Together National School, Dublin; Belmayne Educate Together National School, Dublin; and St Francis of Assisi National School, also in Belmayne, Dublin.

The schools were under a rapid-build programme in 2008 by a company called Western Building System   The fire inspection reports were carried out in early 2016.

Cian O’Callaghan writes:

The current government is neither media shy nor averse to publicity. Yet when it comes to school fire safety there hasn’t been any comment from Minister for Education Richard Burton

Here are five questions that he should answer:

1. Why when he was appointed as Minister for Education in May 2016 did he not insist that urgent remedial works in five primary schools, that were subject to fire safety audits, were carried out immediately?

2. Why were these fire safety audits withheld from the boards of management of these schools despite numerous requests for them to be made available and why was this important information withheld from parents?

3. Why were fire safety audits in all other rapid build schools not carried out as a matter of urgency?

4. When will fire safety audits in all rapid build schools be completed and when will any necessary remedial works identified commence?

5. Why did his Department not ensure independent inspection of these rapid build schools at time of construction and are any measures in place now to ensure independent inspection of new build schools for compliance with fire safety regulations?

Cian O’Callaghan is a Social Democrats councillor on Fingal County Council. Follow Cian on Twitter: @ocallaghancian

From top: Millfield Manor, Newbridge, County Kildare; Fingal councillor Cian O’Callaghan

A report into fire which destroyed 6 houses in 25 minutes at Millford Manor in Newbridge in County Kildare in 2015 was published on Friday.

However, the ‘Framework for Enchancing Fire Safety in Dwellings Where Concerns Arise”, was published with references to the Newbridge fire redacted.

Cian O’Callaghan writes:

Have any lessons been learned from the Millfield Manor fire?

In March 2015 fire spread within minutes through six terraced houses at Millfield Manor, a timber frame estate in Newbridge. The fire stopping measures required by the building regulations were partially missing, allowing fire to spread rapidly between homes.

It was the latest of several fires in timber frame estates that brought to light fire safety structural defects.

In response, the government commissioned a review in July 2015 to include a case study of Millfield Manor.

Last Friday, more than two years later, the review was finally published – with the case study from Millfield Manor was omitted.

Over the weekend residents of Millfield were given an unpublished copy of the case study into their estate – the review categorises the risks associated with fire safety defects in Millfield as moderate or medium despite the destruction of six homes in March 2015.

So what are the key learnings from the fire?

And what is the plan for dealing with structural fire safety defects?

Is there a specific plan to deal with the issue of fire safety defects in timber frame estates that were not constructed in compliance with the building regulations?

It appears that there aren’t any key learnings taken from the fire at Millfield Manor or the other fires that have spread rapidly in timber frame estates.

In fact, the government’s review does not even mention the word timber frame; there are no proposals about how to tackle fire safety defects; and responsibility for remedying defects is put firmly on the shoulders of residents and homeowners.

There is no mention in the review of the failure of local authorities to use their enforcement powers against developers to ensure remediation of homes that are structurally non-compliant with the fire safety building regulations.

There is no attempt to hold those responsible to account.

Facing up to the problem of fire safety defects and offering practical assistance and solutions for residents will be challenging – however the alternative minimalist approach to fire safety concerns, favoured up until recently by the authorities in London, is simply not worth contemplating.

Cian O’Callaghan is a Social Democrats councillor on Fingal County Council. Follow Cian on Twitter: @ocallaghancian

Fire safety issues ‘whitewashed’ in long awaited review (Michael Clifford, Irish Examiner)