More than 230 high-rise buildings in Ireland are to have detailed inspections to ensure that their external cladding does not pose a fire hazard.
The safety checks follow a review ordered by Eoghan Murphy, the housing minister, after the Grenfell Tower fire in London killed 71 people last June.
Fire authorities around Ireland were requested to identify all buildings over six storeys or 18 metres in height that were fitted with external cladding or rain screen systems.
They were also asked to determine whether they needed to use their powers under the Fire Services Act 1981 to require a fire safety assessment for buildings in which such materials had been used.
Mr Murphy at first confined the review to residential blocks in Dublin but later expanded it nationwide.
In a reply to a parliamentary question from Brendan Ryan, Labour TD for Dublin North, Mr Murphy said that 842 medium and high-rise buildings had been identified with 291 found to have external cladding. The owners of 231 properties were asked to carry out detailed fire safety audits to see whether immediate action was necessary to improve their safety.
The information collected by local authorities would be used for prioritising incident planning in each fire station area, Mr Murphy said. Fire crews would visit the highest-risk premises — such as hospitals, nursing homes, industrial plants and shopping complexes — to familiarise themselves with the layout of the buildings and with any specific risks.
Asked by Mr Ryan for the advice to people in the event of a high-rise fire, Mr Murphy said: “In most buildings and circumstances, the safest approach and the default option is for all occupants to evacuate.”
Special provisions applied at hospitals and nursing homes where moving patients or residents might not be feasible or advisable. he said, but added: “Generally where residents receive warning of a fire in the building, outside their own flat, they should evacuate the building,” Mr Murphy said.
Residents of buildings containing flats should be informed by the property management of the arrangements for evacuating them, he said.
Source: The Times
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