To ask the Minister for Housing; Planning and Local Government the status of his plans to introduce measures to assist in financing management companies of pre-2014 multi-unit residential buildings that are found not to be in compliance with fire safety standards to undertake remedial building works; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations, including Part B (Fire Safety), rests with the owners, designers and builders of buildings. As such, in general, building defects are matters for resolution between the contracting parties involved, the homeowner, the builder, the developer and/or their respective insurers, structural guarantee or warranty scheme.
It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including the multi-unit residential buildings referred to, nor does it have a budget for such matters.
However, in August 2017, my Department published a Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings, which is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. The Framework will also be of assistance to professional advisors, both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations.
Where apartment buildings that are non-compliant with building regulations or defective from a fire safety perspective come to the attention of the local authority fire services, they work with management companies and other stakeholders to ensure that appropriate levels of fire safety are achieved to minimise the probability of life loss. Actions are taken on a case by case fire safety assessment.
In addition, in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and in recognition of fears expressed for fire safety, the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management in my Department was tasked with co-ordinating a high-level Task Force to lead a re-appraisal of fire safety in Ireland. The Task Force's report, which was published recently and is available at the following link, http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/fire_safety_in_ireland_-_report_of_the_fire_safety_task_force.pdf, makes a number of recommendations in relation to fire safety in apartment buildings, including;
the registration of fire stopping sub-contractors;
the roles and responsibilities of Building Management Companies e.g. to review and maintain fire safety arrangements, to keep a Fire Safety Register, to advise residents on what to do in the event of a fire alarm (in particular the evacuation arrangements); and
that local authority Fire Services should offer training to Building Management Companies on key life safety issues.
In addition, my Department has embarked on a three pronged Building Control Reform Agenda, including -
Amendments to the Building Control Regulations;
Establishment of a shared services National Building Control Management Project; and
The development of new legislation through the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2007.
These reforms have already brought and, through their full implementation, will continue to bring a new order and discipline to bear on construction projects, creating an enhanced culture of and focus on compliance with the Building Regulations.
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