In the wake of the Grenfell tower fire in London two months ago, tests are ongoing to decide if the structures are fire protected.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has released initial details of an audit by local authorities of all of Ireland’s public multi-storey buildings, their fire-detection systems, and assessments for cladding.

Cladding used in Grenfell was blamed for the rapid spread of the fire which killed 80 people.

Cladding on tower blocks across Britain is now being ripped down amid fears the insulating and cosmetic material could contribute to a similar fire.

In the wake of the blaze, Mr Murphy immediately ordered an audit and inspection by all local authorities of multi-storey buildings here. A taskforce heading this up has now reported back.

Some 847 buildings of more than six storeys, or over 18m high, were detailed. They are used for mixed purposes including residential and non-residential use.

The Department of Housing asked authorities to identify which of these buildings contained cladding systems. Cladding is largely used for external insulation but also, in part, to improve their appearance.

The audit has established that 91 of the residential buildings have cladding. The department said the residential buildings included flats, institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, hotels, and even schools.

The department could not give an exact breakdown of the types of buildings.

Fire tests in those 91 structures to determine what type of cladding is used and whether it poses a danger are ongoing and will be completed in November.

Another 171 non-residential buildings such as industrial, storage buildings and car parks have also been identified as having cladding, with 111 of these to be tested over the coming months for fire risk.

Mr Murphy said: “What happened in Grenfell was a tragedy. We do not have any Grenfell-type towers in Ireland, in terms of height or density of occupation, but the State does have a duty of care when it comes to fire and life safety, particularly to those who are housed by the State.

“I take that responsibility very seriously, hence my decision to establish a fire safety taskforce following the Grenfell tragedy, to make sure that our citizens are safe from similar risks.”

Separately, Mr Murphy detailed fire checks ongoing in social housing blocks. Some 1,250 multi-storey residential buildings for social housing were identified with two storeys or more in the audit.

Some 526 of these buildings have external common escape routes and have been assessed as not requiring early warning systems, while 571 of the remaining social housing buildings inspected have early warning systems in place which are fully functional.

The remaining 153 inspections of other buildings are scheduled for the remainder of August, including a small number of buildings where deficiencies have already been identified and works to address them are in progress.

Source: Irish Examiner

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