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Housing

Dublin Fire Brigade to tell TDs that fire safety will be 'integral' to use of rapid-build homes

Traditional building methods have undergone a vast amount of large-scale testing, an Oireachtas committee will hear today.

DUBLIN FIRE BRIGADE (DFB) will tell an Oireachtas Committee today that fire safety must be “integral” to the adoption of new methods of housing construction. 

The fire service processes around 1,400 Fire Safety Certificate applications every year, in conjunction with the building control authorities of the four Dublin councils. 

In the midst of a housing crisis, the Government is understood to be exploring how new modern methods of construction (MMC) can increase the delivery of housing.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has previously indicated that 40,000 homes could be delivered each year, if modern methods of construction are tapped into. 

“I think we need to look at modern methods of construction, faster methods of construction, through timber frame and through other types of steel frames,” he said. 

In its opening statement to the Oireachtas Housing Committee today to discuss fire safety issues and the review of Part B (Fire Safety) of Building Regulations, Dennis Keeley, the Chief Fire Officer at DFB, said guidance is needed to “promote consistency across the industry” so that new methods of construction can meet certain standards. 

He will say that DFB supports the role that MMC can play in the Government achieving its housing targets, but adds that safety is important.

“Fire safety should be integral to the adoption of these methods,” he will say in his statement to the committee. 

“Traditional construction systems such as reinforced concrete structures or steel, have undergone a vast amount of large scale testing which provides confidence and resilience in this type of construction system.

“Steel and concrete-type construction have their own issues in fire if not adequately addressed from a design perspective,” says Keely.

“Fire safety design using these construction types is well known and have been practiced widely over a sustained period, with lessons learned and changes adopted when necessary,” he adds. 

Keely will say that MMCs are new and innovative designs and are generally faster in delivery and environmentally more suitable.

However, he suggests that reference to these new types of construction should be included in the new regulations, stating that this would “help greatly” designers in demonstrating and regulators in determining compliance.

“Guidance is needed to promote consistency across the industry and for all stakeholders,” he will tell the committee.

In order to ensure that appropriate guidance is in place, it may require more regular amendments and updates in regulations, he says. 

This will ensure there is clear guidance in relation to new MMCs that emerge, as well as ensuring that buildings are designed and constructed safely, says Keely. 

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