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Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
coombe hospital

Coombe Hospital asks HSE to replace 50-year-old lifts due to mysterious heavy smoke

The source of the smoke could not be found.

A BUSY MATERNITY hospital asked the HSE for funding to replace fifty-year-old elevators after three separate occasions on which heavy smoke was reported in their plant room… the source for which could not be found.

In an application, the Coombe Hospital in Dublin warned of “serious concerns” about the mysterious smoke and the possibility a fire would shut down operations there.

A report sent to the HSE early this year said it would cost €240,000 (excluding VAT) for the modernisation of three lifts at the hospital or €420,000 (ex VAT) for their full replacement.

According to records released under FOI, the HSE granted €150,000 in funding to “progress replacement/modernisation of one passenger lift”.

In an application, the Coombe said three lifts – for patients, the public, and for service staff and supplies – all shared the same plant room space in the hospital.

They said the elevators had originally been installed around 1965 and overhauled in 1996 but “significant issues” remained that had been highlighted by their insurers and maintenance firm.

The report said: “Over the last five months on three separate occasions the lifts plant room activated [a] full fire alarm resulting in temporary suspension of clinics.

“On all three occasions, the first responder spotted heavy smoke within the lift-plant room, however [maintenance staff] could not identify the root cause of the smoke.”

They said the mystery incidents could eventually result in a fire that would cause major disruption in the hospital with three elevators all having to be shut down.

The application said the lifts had now reached the end of “their useful and safe life expectancy” and were in constant use for patient transfers and other hospital business.

It said there was a particular concern about the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Baby Care Unit which could only be reached by one of these three lifts.

“It is critical that the hospital have reliable and fully functional lifts for these services,” said the report.

The Coombe also said they had commissioned a lift engineering specialist to assess the elevators and what options might be open to the hospital.

The report said: “Their recommendation was to either modernise existing lifts or full lifts replacement based on condition and risk.”

Asked about the risk posed by the smoke incidents, a spokesperson for the hospital said: “We’re not in a position to comment further as these are ongoing matters for the Board of the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital and the HSE.”

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