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ASFP Ireland (ASFPI) hosted a seminar on Changing Culture in Fire Safety Construction at FM Ireland 2019 at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge, Dublin on 5-6 March.

The seminar, which took place on Tuesday 5 March, brought together several expert speakers, including ASFPI Operations Officer David O’Reilly; John Barry from the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management ; and Michael Slattery of Michael Slattery & Associates, Fire Safety Engineers.

Mr O’Reilly provided an overview of the current construction climate and introduced the two keynote speakers. He described the change in culture that has resulted from the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (BCAR 2014) and highlighted the vital role of passive fire protection in protecting the structure of buildings and in  maintaining compartmentation.

John Barry reviewed the findings of the Fire Safety Task Force report. The Task Force was established following the Grenfell Tower fire to identify and consider issues related to life safety in Ireland and initiate remedial action. Its aim was to appraise existing arrangements for fire safety and monitor information emerging. The report made 60 recommendations which have been accepted by Government for implementation.

As well as considering issues related to medium to high rise buildings and multi-storey, multi-unit social housing, the Task Force also undertook a broader review of existing fire safety arrangements in Ireland and makes a number of recommendations for enhancing the current fire safety system. The report introduces a number of amendments to the statutory responsibilities of the “person having control” of premises, as set out in section 18 of the Fire Services Acts.

Mr Barry highlighted the focus on maintaining fire safety information about the premises, noting that the report recommends a public declaration for fire safety for premises to which s. 18(2) applies. This will include specified information, including the name of the person having control.

The new recommendations will require the person having control to implement advice and precautions described in relevant guides to ensure appropriate working fire detection and alarm system, proper escape routes, readily openable doors on escape routes and emergency lighting. In sleeping risk premises there will be a requirement to maintain a fire safety register. In large scale or high risk premises with large numbers of the public a fire safety file, which outlines the fire safety strategy for design and construction, will be required, in addition to the maintenance of a fire safety register.

Michael Slattery provided an overview of the fire safety design process, explaining that fire safety professionals should be involved early in the design process. He explained the role of fire engineering analysis and modelling and described how smoke movement and egress models could be used to establish the time to reach untenable conditions to be estimated to  enable safe egress times and stair and escape route capacities to be developed.

He explained the role of structural protection and passive fire protection systems and looked at the responsibilities of all involved in the construction process from design certification and inspection to the issuance of completion certificates. He highlighted the importance of meticulous record-keeping, noting that whoever signs the Certificate of Compliance takes responsibility and could be liable for prosecution.  He pointed to the range of guidance available and recommended ASFP documents including the ASFP Colour Books and Technical Guidance Documents relating to structural protection and firestopping.

The event was brought to a close by ASFP member Dave Murphy of FPS, who offered a practical demonstration of installation of firestopping in a compartment wall, while Paul Martin of Legrand UK & Ireland offered a presentation on Creating a Cable Pathway through a Building.

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