Chief Fire Officer calls for more resources to carry out fire safety inspections, in wake of Grenfell tragedy


Dublin’s Chief Fire Officer has called for more resources for local authorities to carry out fire safety inspections, in wake of the Grenfell tower tragedy in London.

Patrick Fleming said that the resources are needed to prevent such tragedies that left 79 people dead.

Lord Mayor Mícheál Mac Donncha welcomed the call saying that on-site inspections are needed.

“The Grenfell tragedy in London has again highlighted the need for absolute vigilance in fire prevention and fire safety. I welcome the call by Chief Fire Officer Patrick Fleming for more resources for local authorities to carry out building control inspections.”

He added that the current system was introduced in the wake of the evacuation of the Priory Hall apartment complex.

“That near tragedy showed the failure of the self-certification system. While new regulations have seen some improvement this problem will become more acute as building and development continues.

“In this regard I welcome the fact that plans are being implemented in Dublin City Council to introduce a system of onsite inspections during construction for fire safety issues (Part B of the Building Regulations)”.

Earlier this week, calls were made to remove Grenfell Tower- type cladding from the headquarters of Cork County Council. understands that Cork County councillors were emailed to notify them that the cladding was installed around the exterior of the second floor of County Hall, the floor that contains the main council chamber.

However, they were assured that the cladding currently imposes no increased risk of danger.

In an email seen by, councillors were told “the Council’s Facilities Manager and Chief Fire Officer have reviewed the matter and having regard to the limited extent of the use of the panel, the nature of the use of the building and the fire safety measures installed, the use of the panelling meets all fire safety requirements and does not pose any increased risk to the users of the building.”

Cork County Council has since commissioned a report investigating the nature of its installation, and says further action will be taken should the investigation raise any concerns.

The cladding was installed during a €62m refurbishment of the 17-storey County Hall which was finished in 2006.

Despite reassurances from the council, Fine Gael councillor Derry Canty says that the cladding should still be removed as soon as possible.

“I think the best thing for everybody is to remove it,” Cllr. Canty said.

“If it’s there, it’s left there and everyone is just worrying about it.

“We’re only in there for meetings but you have staff sitting in there all day. I believe this should be done post-haste, let’s get on with it.”

However, one Independent councillor, Marcia D’Alton, said she has no concerns about continuing to meet in the building, insisting that she has confidence in the fire safety measures being taken.

“Honestly, I’ve don’t have any concerns. We have been ensured the building has been incredibly well kitted out with sprinklers and the necessary fire precautions,” Cllr. D’Alton said.

“I know the extent to which the building has been electronically modified. It is an incredibly well finished building so I genuinely believe the council when they say the precautions being made are adequate.”

Cork County Council says it currently has a number of comprehensive fire safety measures installed, including sprinkler protection, automatic smoke ventilation, detection and an electronic alarm system.

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Dublin’s chief fire officer says more resources needed to carry out inspections


DUBLIN FIRE BRIGADE’S Chief Fire Officer has said that local authorities are best placed to carry out building control inspections in the wake of the Grenfell fire but resources aren’t available to do it.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Patrick Fleming said local authorities need more resources to carry out the inspections:

Well I think every local authority has a building control section, and fire services as well, and the local authority system is probably the best situated service in order to provide that.

“However it does need the resources to do that and that is where there may be some issues,” he concluded.

Responding to Fleming’s point on the same programme the Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy outlined his department’s reaction to the deadly London blaze, which claimed at least 79 lives earlier this month.

“The first responsibility that I think we have here is to ensure that there are fire safety measures in place in all multi-storey buildings.

“We moved very quickly to liaise with the building control authorities, to liaise with the fire authorities to ensure that they were doing this inspection work.

“By the 19th of July we’ll have reports back from the local authorities on their inspection of multi-storey units.

“By that point as well all local authorities will have inspected cladding on buildings over 18 metres.

These are important first steps that we need to take to make sure that people are safe where they live.

Fire safety 

Murphy confirmed in a statement earlier this morning that he had ordered the coordination of a high-level task force to lead the re-appraisal of fire safety in Ireland.

The Minister has ordered a series of measures to be completed by the task force in the weeks ahead to ensure that all available precautionary measures are taken to prevent a similar fire happening here.

“While preliminary work shows that there are no situations in Ireland directly comparable to Grenfell Tower,” Murphy said, “We must learn the lessons and take appropriate and balanced action to minimise the possibility of a large-scale fire occurring in Ireland.”

Taking action

The National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management is charged with coordinating the task force.

This body reported on the national audit of fire safety in Traveller accommodation in the wake of the Carrickmines fire in 2015, which killed five adults, five children and one unborn baby.

The directorate will work with building standards and social housing divisions at the Housing Department, in addition to the chief fire officer in Dublin.

A review of how each local authority’s fire service is prepared to deal with a large-scale incident is underway.

Landlords are also being notified of their obligations in terms of fire safety requirements.

Further measures

As well as the measures already taken, Murphy has ordered a number of other steps to be taken in the weeks ahead to ensure the country is doing everything it can to avoid a similar fire here.

These include the publication of a guide on undertaking fire safety assessments and a renewed focus on the preparedness of local authorities for a large-scale emergency.

Murphy will also update his cabinet colleagues on the post-Grenfell situation in Ireland, and meet with local authority chief fire officers in the coming weeks to review current plans for fire safety initiatives.

He closed the statement outlining the measures by urging every householder in Ireland to “ensure that the most effective and straightforward measure for safeguarding families from fire – smoke alarms – are installed and fully functional in every home and are tested regularly”.

“Systematic re-check”

Last week, Leo Varadkar’s government lost its first vote since he became Taoiseach, when a Green Party motion on building standards – made more pertinent by the Grenfell blaze – passed through the Dáil.

Yesterday, calls were made to extend fire safety checks beyond multi-floor social housing units following the discovery that the same cladding used in Grenfell Tower was used in the headquarters of Cork County Council.

The council confirmed that a similar aluminium material used in Grenfell Tower is currently installed around the exterior of the council chamber within the main foyer of the building.

The cladding was installed during a €62 million refurbishment of the Council Hall which was completed in 2006.

Reacting to the news, Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin TD said that Minister Murphy “must order a systematic re-check of fire safety in buildings”.

“It’s extremely worrying that the flammable cladding, believed to have contributed to the spread of the awful fire in Grenfell Tower, was installed here in Ireland,” she said.

Independent TD Tommy Broughan also raised worries that the unsafe cladding used in the UK may have been used here too.

He said: “The same restrictions apply in Ireland that you can’t use non-compliant material yet it has been used in the UK and we need to know now if it has also been used in Ireland.”

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Police say death toll in Grenfell Tower fire ‘around 80 people’


The death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire is believed to be around 80 people, the vast majority of whom were from just 23 flats, British police have said.

Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said contact had been made with at least one person from 106 of the 129 flats in the building.

From those flats, 18 people are dead or assumed dead, while the remaining victims were thought to have been in the flats which had not been heard from.

Ms McCormack confirmed more than 60 organisations were helping police with their investigation.

Efforts to establish who was missing in the wake of the fire were focused on talking to friends, families and neighbours of those in Grenfell Tower, Ms McCormack said.

She said: “On the first day of our work we were provided with a list by the tenant management organisation of who they had recorded living at Grenfell Tower.

“We quickly identified by the end of the first day that this list was not accurate.”

She added: “What we know is that it would be impossible for anyone to produce a list to show exactly who was at Grenfell Tower that night, that includes the people who were living there or who were visiting.”

The 23 flats which were said to have no survivors were spread between the 11th floor and the 23rd.

A handful of flats were still too unstable for police to carry out further investigation, she said.

Police have examined “every imaginable source” of information about who was in the building, “from government agencies to fast food companies”, Ms McCormack added.

She said that a couple who were missing and assumed dead had actually been on holiday at the time of the blaze.

Councils warned about cladding weeks before London fire

Every London council was warned by Britain’s fire service that cladding on high-rise buildings could be dangerous just weeks before the tragedy.

In a letter sent to all 33 local authorities and housing providers in the capital in May, the London Fire Brigade urged them to consider if panels could be flammable.

The safety advice came in the wake of a fire at Shepherd’s Court in Hammersmith, west London, in August 2016, where cladding was found to have aided its spread.

The letter said: “In the case of this fire, we believe such panels were a contributory factor to the external fire spread.”

Flammable cladding is suspected to have accelerated the scale of the west London blaze on 14 June.

In the correspondence, a “number of cases” were said to be found where fire protection on external facades “did not comply” with building regulations.



The disclosure comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed 120 tower blocks have failed fire safety tests and face having their cladding removed.

Suggestions were made in the letter, signed by assistant commissioner Dan Daly, that contractors might have believed wrongly that separate safety certificates for glazing also extended to cladding.

The letter said: “In the light of fires that have occurred, I would urge you to consider carefully your arrangements for specifying, monitoring and approving all aspects of future replacement and improvement to building facades and construction of new buildings for which you are responsible.

“Contracts for the provision and installation of replacement elements of building facades, including insulation, replacement double glazing and associated spandrel and in-fill panels must ensure compliance with all parts of Part B if they are to secure public safety and minimise fire losses.

“I would therefore strongly urge that you consider this issue as part of the risk assessment process for premises under your control.

“I suggest that you make sure all relevant information about any replacement window and facade schemes is fully available to fire risk assessors.

“Where no reliable information is available for a given property, it is our general expectation that a strategy to assess the risk and where necessary implement short, medium and long term actions to address the risk.

“This assessment will need to take account of other fire safety measures already in place in the building as well as potential mitigation measures to ensure that any potential fire spread does not pose a risk to health and safety.”

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where Grenfell Tower is located, would have received a copy of the letter, LFB said.

Kensington and Chelsea Council said this afternoon: “We know there are many questions relating to fire safety standards.

“The council is committed to cooperating fully with both the public inquiry and the criminal investigation.

“We do not think it is right to make comments relevant to the inquiry or subject to the investigation until this issue has been discussed with the police and the solicitors to the public inquiry once they have been appointed.

“The council does not want to prejudice the fair conduct of the public inquiry in any way. We will update you as soon as those discussions have taken place.”




Mrs May announced in Parliament this afternoon that the number of tower blocks in Britain found to have combustible cladding after failing fire safety tests has grown to 120.

Mrs May said flammable cladding was found in the high-rise blocks across 37 local authority areas in England in tests carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

She said 100% of the cladding samples tested have been found to be combustible and urged local authorities and housing associations to “get on” with fire safety checks without waiting for test results.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May said 282 good quality temporary properties have been identified for victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster, 132 families have had their needs assessed, and 65 offers of temporary accommodation have been made.

The government has provided nearly £1.25 million in discretionary payments and will be giving an extra £1m to a local group of charities, trusts and foundations “which have been doing such important work”, Mrs May said.

The PM said she expects to name a judge for the public inquiry into the disaster “soon”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked for a “categorical” answer on whether cladding with a combustible core, such as polyethylene, is legal for high-rise buildings, and if that used on Grenfell Tower was legal.

Mrs May replied: “The situation is, in relation to the cladding, that the building regulations identify the cladding which is compatible with the building regulations and that which is non-compliant with those building regulations.

“My understanding is that this particular cladding was not compliant with the building regulations.

“This raises wider issues, as the House will recognise, and it is important that we are careful in how we talk about this because there is a criminal investigation taking place and it’s important that we allow the police to do that criminal investigation and take the decisions that they need to take.”



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