CONCERNS ABOUT FIRE safety in the Priory Hall apartment complex in Dublin were raised as early as 2006, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has confirmed.
An inspection of the complex took place in 2006, after the developer Thomas McFeely applied for a Floor Area Compliance Certificate (FACC), according to Deputy Phil Hogan.
Although the focus of the FACC process was to determine whether the complex could be exempt from stamp duty, following the examination an inspector for the Department raised a number of fire safety concerns – in relation to the absence of fire collars on pipes and adequacy of roof and wall insulation – with Priory Hall’s site engineer.
McFeely was notified of those concerns in writing, and the Department’s inspector began liaising with the site engineer to resolve the issues raised, Hogan said. Spot checks were subsequently undertaken by the inspector.
Hogan added that Dublin City Council were not informed about the issues raised at the time.
Safety given the green light
On 21 November of that year, a certificate from CLM Fire Protection Limited confirming that fire collars had been installed in compliance with the Building Regulations was provided by the developer, Hogan said.
Furthermore, signed copies of RIAI Form 1 – The Architect’s Opinion on Compliance with Building Regulations - a form used where professional architectural service has been provided at the design and construction stage of the relevant building or works – were also provided by the developer to the Department’s inspector in support of the FACC application.
Hogan said the forms for Priory Hall were signed by a registered member of the RIAI and accompanied by the RIAI Membership Stamp, confirming that:
- Architectural services were provided at design and construction stages
- Designs (based on drawings submitted by the signatory) were in “substantial compliance” with the Building Regulations
- The fire safety certificates were properly obtained
Hogan added that the form included the statement that “in the opinion of the architect concerned, the construction of the relevant Building or Works is in substantial compliance with the Building Regulations.” However, he noted that the onus is on the developer and to ensure compliance with the building regulations, including fire safety requirements.
Concerns at Dublin City Council
In late 2008, Dublin City Council became concerned about fire safety issues at Priory Hall following a complaint to Dublin Fire Brigade.
A full investigative survey of the development then took place – uncovering further and more serious concerns than had been discovered by any previous inspection.
Hogan said that, since that point, the Council had used the statutory powers available to it “to pursue compliance with planning permission conditions and with fire safety and building standards requirements” and that the subsequent “failure by the developer to honour court undertakings to remedy fire safety defects led to the latest High Court proceedings”.