Government calls on local authorities to check housing in light of London fire

Eoghan Murphy wants to assess the readiness of fire authorities

Government calls on local authorities to check housing in light of London fire

A fire exit sign | Image: Andrew Parsons/PA Archive/PA Images

The newly-appointed Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy wants local authorities to ensure all its multi-storey social housing has proper fire safety measures in place.

Minister Murphy has offered sympathy to the people of London affected by the Grenfell Tower block fire on Wednesday morning.

He said the tragedy "was a reminder of the dangers which fire can pose in society and he highlighted the need for vigilance at all times in relation to fire safety."

Noting that local authorities already monitor fire safety measures in multi-storey social housing flats and apartments, he has called for several actions to ensure every step is being taken to protect lives.

Minister Murphy met with Dublin's Chief Fire Officer on Friday to discuss fire safety and life safety issues in light of the London tragedy.

He says he intends to continue this dialogue "over the coming days and weeks" with all Chief Fire Officers across the country.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy | File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

Readiness of authorities

He has also requested that the management board of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management (NDFEM) meet and assess the readiness of the fire authorities to respond to emergencies.

"Each local authority has been requested, as a matter of urgency, to review their multi-storey social housing units to ensure that all early warning systems, including alarm and detection systems and means of escape including corridors, stairways and emergency exits are fully functional and in place", the minister said in a statement.

The Residential Tenancies Board has been asked to notify all landlords of their responsibilities and obligations, in terms of ensuring that their properties fully comply with fire safety requirements.

He has also requested that a notification be issued to all registered builders, assigned certifiers, designers and owners through the Building Control Management System (BCMS).

Mr Murphy said: "Although there are no apartment blocks in Ireland comparable to Grenfell Tower, all householders, regardless of the type of accommodation they live in, are urged to take the basic but most effective fire safety precaution of ensuring that their family’s home is protected with working fire alarms.

"These simple devices are readily available and are now present in more than 90% of residences.

"I urge all householders to check regularly that they are working effectively.

"There is no doubt that the greater awareness of the dangers of fire and the presence of fire alarms in so many homes has helped to reduce the annual toll of fatalities due to fire to record lows in recent years. But we can never be complacent."