’No emergency lighting’ at 49 Irish tower blocks

’No emergency lighting’ at 49 Irish tower blocks

 

IRISH government investigation into fire safety in the country’s social housing towers found that 49 had no emergency lighting at all.

The probe into 695 local authority buildings of more than six storeys or 18 metres in height – conducted in the wake of the Grenfell tower fire in the UK – also found a range of other failures, especially the disabling of smoke alarms by tenants to prevent nuisance tripping.

The survey also notes that 41 of the towers did not have fire detection or alarm systems in place and in 14 buildings, escape routes were blocked. These issues – including the emergency lighting – have since been rectified.

 

‘The report makes a number of important recommendations and identifies areas as a key focus for attention in the immediate future,’ said Irish housing minister Eoghan Murphy. (Picture: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly)

Additionally, the ‘Fire Safety in Ireland’ report says the ‘combination of contributory factors’ that apparently gave rise to the Grenfell tragedy ‘do not appear to be present in buildings in Ireland’.

Ireland’s housing minister Eoghan Murphy told the press: ’I  hope that people in Ireland take re-assurance in knowing that the surveys undertaken as part of the Task Force’s work indicate that multi-storey, multi-unit social housing is generally well built and maintained safe.

‘Likewise, while assessment and necessary upgrading works are ongoing in a small number of cases, we are all reassured that the conditions which appear to have contributed to  Grenfell Tower tragedy do not appear to be present in medium to high rise buildings in Ireland.

‘The report does, however, make a number of important recommendations and identifies areas as a key focus for attention in the immediate future, particularly raising consciousness among ‘persons having control’ of premises of their statutory fire safety responsibility under the Fire Services Acts, through targeted campaigns’.

The Irish report follows a week after the revelation that over a third of England’s social housing towers have inadequate emergency lighting.

In an investigation of 1,584 tower blocks – 40 per cent of the country’s total social stock – a total of 402, or 36 per cent, had missing or broken emergency lighting on the residents’ escape routes.

Inside Housing magazine conducted the probe by analysing the fire risk assessments for all 1,584 tower blocks. As well as inadequate emergency lighting, the assessments reveal broken fire doors, holes in walls that breach fire compartmentation and missing fire safety information for residents across the country.

In 2005, an independent report into the emergency lighting at Grenfell Tower revealed that two thirds of the tower’s emergency lighting units failed a routine inspection.

The report, compiled by Capita Symonds, criticised the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) as well as the electrical contractor responsible for the lighting on the escape routes.

It stated that there was ‘inadequate management’, ‘inadequate installation standards’, a ‘failure to acknowledge the importance of undertaking urgent remedial works’ as well as a ‘lack of communication’ between the managers of the West London tower and its residents.

Seventy-two residents lost their lives in the blaze that destroyed the Grenfell Tower in west London in June 2017.

 

Source: Lux Review

 

Central Bank spent €130,000 on artistic light fitting for HQ

The light fitting in the Central Bank’s new HQ, which cost €130,000

Source: Irish Times.

The Central Bank has spent €130,000 on a light fitting for its plush new €140m headquarters on Dublin’s North Wall Quay.

Acclaimed artist Niamh Barry has designed the functional art piece, which is located in the reception area of the HQ and is available for all visitors to the Central Bank to view.

Along with the light fitting, as part of the planning conditions, the Central Bank is currently in a procurement process for a separate artwork in the north east corner of the North Wall Quay site.

A spokeswoman for the Central Bank said yesterday that the cost of the light fitting was “in the region of €130,000 plus VAT. This is an estimated cost as the bill of works from the main contractor was not itemised as the contractor was engaged on a total price contract.”

The Central Bank also pointed out that there was a requirement with all large public infrastructure projects to include an artistic work of value in the respective schemes.

A graduate of NCAD, Ms Barry sculpts with light and metal and has exhibited her work widely in New York, San Francisco, Mexico, Switzerland, London and Dublin, while a book was recently published on her work.

The latest figures from the Central Bank detailing the spend on the project show that €127m was spent on the project to the end of March this year. The detailed breakdown shows €2.26m was spent on “meeting room furniture and loose furniture”.

Meanwhile, €2,000 was spent on the transport of the ‘Dublin Landings Building Model’ along with €108,000 being paid to Tricon for ‘catering design services’.

An additional €46,000 was spent on the transfer of contents of buildings, while another €5,000 was spent on bike racks.

The main contractor, Walls Construction, was paid €71m – while the security spend prior to Walls commencing work was €302,000 and paid to Netwatch.

Architectural firm HJ Lyons has been paid €4m in relation to the project.

In addition to Ms Barry’s light fitting and the planned artwork for the north east of the site, the Central Bank bought a piece of art entitled ‘Contemporary Ruin’ by Brian Maguire.

This work depicted the North Wall Quay site where the unfinished Anglo Irish Bank headquarters was located before work commenced on the Central Bank. It cost €995.

Irish Independent

Our neighbour’s security light is waking us at night, but they won’t do anything to help

Source: Irish Times, Tue, Nov 28, 2017, 00:00

Nightly nightmare: We are waking at 2am, 3am, 4am and sometimes 5am due to the light on our bedroom wall

 

We have an ongoing problem with a neighbour whose outside security light shines down the length of the small terrace and into our bedroom window every night. Due to its irregular operation, if someone walks past or a leaf flutters in the nearby bush, we are getting broken sleep, waking at 2am, 3am, 4am and sometimes 5am due to the light on our bedroom wall.

We initially approached it amicably by asking our neighbour if they could move the light to the opposite wall where it would still light their property but not all the other gardens in the back of the houses. We were told in no uncertain terms that it would not be moved. We are now in the fourth year of dealing with this and have been told not to approach the woman of the house but the husband and not to talk to him again, and remove ourselves from their property. What are my options at this stage?

It is regrettable that your neighbour appears so unreasonable. It really is very difficult to deal with someone like this.

The District Court has a process (District Court rules 1997 order 96 rule 8) which is often used whereby you can bring a neighbour to court for noise pollution but unfortunately it only covers noisy neighbours and nothing else.

You could try complaining to An Garda Síochána but I imagine they will not want to get involved as they will consider it a civil matter and not a criminal one. The Environmental Protection Agency received some representations in a public consultation process in 2012 regarding light pollution but unfortunately it has stated that it has no function in that regard.

Presuming that you have already installed heavy curtains with blackout lining and blackout roller blinds then a possible route would be to see if the neighbour would engage with you through an independent third party (someone acceptable to you and to him) to hammer out some sort of agreement by mediation. As a general rule if neither you nor he is 100 per cent happy with the deal that is reached then it’s a good deal. This is the cheapest of three main options.

Court

A second and more expensive option is taking him to court. What you are complaining of here is a nuisance which in legal terms is called a tort (not to be confused with a dessert Ross O’Carroll-Kelly might eat!). It’s basically a civil wrong.

If a tort has been committed then you can sue on foot of it. It is reasonably foreseeable that his floodlight would have the effect of waking up his neighbours so he owes you a duty not to disturb you or your fellow sleep-deprived neighbours with the floodlight. To definitively deal with the matter and enforce your right to a decent night’s sleep, you would have to initiate court proceedings, seeking an order from a judge compelling your neighbour to cease the nuisance. As with all court cases, it can be a very lengthy process, the costs can rack up quickly and you may not get the redress you seek. It is very important to remember before you embark on a court case that the outcome is never guaranteed.

The third and nuclear option would be, of course, to consider moving house which seems quite drastic but ultimately you may have no choice, particularly if you do not fancy going to court.

Paul Stack is a solicitor at P&G Stack Solicitors