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Apartment Living and Fire Safety

Introduction

Every building structure, including apartment buildings, must comply with certain legal requirements regarding fire safety.
In particular, building design must ensure that all persons are able to safely evacuate (or remain safely in their own unaffected apartment) in the event of fire and allow the fire services to access the premises in order to put the fire out.

The information below outlines what legislation is applicable to apartment buildings, what are the fire safety requirements for an apartment building and where the responsibility lies to fulfil legal obligations/requirements.

The legislation relating to fire safety in such buildings are, the Building Control Act, 1990 in relation to the design and construction and also the Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003 and the regulations made under these Acts.

Please see legislation and FAQ

For advice and information on fire safety in your apartment or apartment block or complex, you should contact the building control section of your local authority for details of what was agreed for the building at design and fire safety certificate stage.

Fire Safety Certificates

Unlike the private dwelling house, a Fire Safety Certificate is required for the construction of any new apartment building, and also for any changes to an apartment building thereafter in accordance with the Building Control Act, 1990 and Building Control Regulations, 1997 (S.I. No 496 of 1997).

A Fire Safety certificate application sets out how a proposed design will, if constructed in that way, be in compliance with the Building Regulations B1- B5, (SI No 497 of 1997)

Developers are required to seek and obtain a fire safety certificate for the proposed works in advance of construction, and to carry out such construction in accordance with the provisions of the approved design and also subject to any condition(s) that may be imposed.

Developers are legally required to obtain a Fire Safety Certificate before commencing construction.

The Fire Safety Certificate documentation submitted to the local Authority sets out the fire safety requirements to be observed in the design and construction of the building.

In general, developers will employ a Fire Safety Consultant, Architect or Engineer who is familiar with the Building Regulations and the procedure for applying for a Fire Safety Certificate.

Local authorities in their function as building control authorities are responsible for assessing and issuing  (or refusing) fire safety certificates applications for developments such as apartment blocks in their functional area.

A certificate is granted, with/without condition(s), where the local authority is satisfied that the proposed layout and construction of a building, from a fire safety point of view, will comply with the Building Regulations.

Who is responsible for fire safety in multi-unit developments?

Section 18 (2) of the Fire Services Act places a duty of care on persons in control of buildings, and therefore a building which contain apartments, to take all reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of fires and to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of the occupants in the event of fire occurring on the premises.

Who are the “persons in control “ of the apartment building?
 
In many cases these duties may be shared. The building owner, the building owners management company, the apartment owners collectively, the owner or tenant of an apartment, could be the person(s) in control, depending on individual circumstances.

A Management/Maintenance Agent, as happens in most cases, may be employed to carry out general maintenance and management, including Fire Safety management, but the overall responsibility will lie with the Building Owners Management Company/ building owners collectively to ensure that it’s fire safety obligations are fulfilled.

Fire safety management includes the maintenance of all fire safety devices and systems within the building including for example, fire detection and alarm systems, emergency lighting, ventilation systems, fire doors etc.

In addition, housekeeping of escape corridors, waste management, building and site access and egress together with fire safety instruction and evacuation plans and drills are necessary.

Those responsible for all these aspects of fire safety should be readily identifiable and relevant contact details should be known to residents and prominently displayed at the development.

Should the Building Owners Management Company decide to employ their managing Agent to assist in the discharge of its fire safety responsibilities then external experts may be required to assist the agent.

Under the Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003, Dublin Fire Brigade can pursue enforcement of fire safety matters, including the management of fire safety. The Building Owners Management Company should be prepared to facilitate any request by the local authority to inspect common areas or individual units.


The following list details ongoing Management and Maintenance Issues - Requiring formal control by or on behalf of the Apartment Owners’ Management Company (AOMC) or other similar bodies responsible for management of apartment developments.

Site Access

Many residential developments are contained in a secured enclosure, which if not properly designed in the first place and subsequently managed can give rise to delays in delivering emergency fire service to the development.

Very often indeed these measures are introduced by the management company after/ outside of the fire safety certificate application process and normally without any consultation with the Fire Brigade.

Naively some management companies seek to supply the local fire station with keys or codes to the gates but this is unworkable for the fire services for obvious reasons of logistics.

Rather the design should be arranged so as to readily and simply over-ridden by the fire services when they arrive on site without reliance on other persons or systems and should be arranged to fail to the open position (or easily pushed open) on electrical power failure also.

These systems if not properly designed can also present a problem for persons wishing to leave the compound also. There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • How the system works
  • Who maintains it and when
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  •  In addition it should be established that the gate system is approved by the fire service


Fire Detection and Alarm System

Virtually all multi-unit residential developments include a fire detection and alarm system. Some may have a 24 hour management presence on site such as caretakers/janitors and others may not. Some developments may be single blocks others may have many blocks, types of structures and forms of tenancy and use.

The fire detection and alarm system can be a simple manual system with only manual call points in the common areas (break glass units) and sounders in the apartments or it can be a much more elaborate fire detection and alarm system comprising for instance:

  • Early warning to all the apartments of a fire in any one of the apartments
  • Early warning to all the apartments of a fire in the basement car park or storage area or communal facilities
  • Early warning to all the apartments of a fire in a non residential area (retail units, offices crèche, hotel)
  • An alert signal to other blocks of a fire in a sister block in the same development
  • Early detection in stairway or corridors to open automatic opening vents or operate automatic smoke control measures
  • Or a combination of the above

Whereas smaller older traditional built apartment blocks usually only included a manual fire detection and alarm system it is more usual for the modern larger developments to include a full blown fire detection and alarm system usually with some early detection and warning in the apartments themselves and in the circulation areas.

In such systems it is desirable that remote indicators be provided over apartment entrance
doors to assist the fire brigade in locating the apartment where a fire may have occurred.


There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • The extent of the system and how it works
  • Who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out, and provisions for arranging access
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong

In addition details of what was agreed for the fire detection and alarm system at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation.

In addition it is desirable that the management company retains the right of entry into individual apartments to carry out effective maintenance on the equipment (detectors and sounders) and in the interest of avoidance of false alarms and nuisance to the occupants of other units.

To avoid confusion it should be pointed out that most individual apartments will in addition require to be provided with a mains powered a smoke /heat alarm system for the protection of the occupants of that particular apartment only.
 While such systems should in addition be the subject of suitable maintenance this is not required for the safety of other occupants of the overall development and it is not envisaged that the Management Company would have any role in ensuring the maintenance of these separate systems, which would normally be the responsibility of the individual occupiers
 It would be useful best practice for the management company was able to offer such a service to its members.


Emergency Lighting System

Virtually all multi-unit residential developments include an emergency lighting system usually only to illuminate the common escape routes (corridors and stairways).

Emergency lighting along with exit signposting illuminated in emergency lighting is generally required from accommodation such as basement car parks or other ancillary accommodation.
Except in the case of complex circulation layouts and at exit level of stairway that extend down to lower levels it is generally not necessary to provide exit signposting in apartment developments.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • The extent of the system and how it works
  • Who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out, and provisions for arranging access
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  • In addition details of what was agreed for the emergency lighting system at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

    Dry Risers, Wet Risers, Inlet Breechings, and Landing Valves

Usually only the larger multi-unit residential developments include wet or dry riser installations. These or provisions installed in tall or otherwise inaccessible building to obviate the need for fire fighting personnel to drag heavy water charged hoses up through the building to carry out fire fighting operations.

In the case of wet risers (usually only tall or inaccessible developments) a detailed maintenance program is necessary for this sophisticated fire fighting equipment and must be carried out by competent specialists.

In the case of dry risers too a modest amount of maintenance is required to ensure that for instance the inlet breeching is not vandalised and that the landing valves have appropriate blank caps secured by a leather strap or similar.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • How the system works
  • Who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out, and provisions for arranging access
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  • In addition details of what was agreed for risers at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation


Fire Fighting Shafts and Lifts

Here again this is a provision that is normally only associated with taller or relatively inaccessible buildings and includes a series of features collectively referred to as a “Fire Fighting Shaft” which forms a bridge head for conducting fire fighting operations.

It normally includes a protected stairway and protected approach lobby enclosed in 2 hour fire resisting construction (in apartment building the fire fighting lobby may be the normal lobby required for the protection of the escape stairway in taller buildings) along with a dry or wet riser a fire fighting lift and specific ventilation provisions from both the stairs and the lobbies at each level.

There should be a clear understanding and written description/drawing of:

  • How the fire-fighting shaft is arranged including location and rating of fire doors, provision of vents to assist fire fighting and location of landing valves
  • Whether a fire fighting lift is provided/ required and who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  • In addition details of what was agreed for the fire-fighting shaft at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

First Aid Fire Fighting Equipment Including Hose Reels (If Provided/Required)

The provision of first aid fire fighting for the use of the occupants is not governed by the building control regulations but its provision is considered desirable in all instances where vandalism would not be likely.

Clearly the management company needs to consider what provision is appropriate for the development in question and this may in some instances be the provision of such equipment within the individual apartments themselves or in the common areas in other developments. Whatever approach is adopted it is necessary for such equipment to be properly maintained and it is necessary for the management company to make and manage the necessary “house rules” to address this issue.

Hose reel installations are not often employed in the accommodation levels as their inappropriate use can give rise to fire doors being held open by the hose and the creation of a trip hazard, however the provision of hose reels in basement car parks is common and these require to be maintained in accordance with the installation standard for the hose reel (BS 5306 Part 1).

There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • What first aid fire fighting equipment is to be provided and where
  • What arrangements are made to access it for maintenance
  • Who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • When and how often is maintenance carried out
  • Who should be contacted for immediate replacement if an extinguisher is used or damaged or a hose reel damaged or found to be faulty
  • In addition details of what was agreed for hose reels if any at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Staircase Ventilation and Automatic Opening Vents in Lobbies

The ability to ventilate stairways is an essential part of fire fighting operations at residential buildings. For stairways this normally this will take one or other of two forms:

The first being the provision of openable vents at every level in the stairway including at high level at the top of the stairway enclosure, or,

The second being the provision of a high level automatic opening vent at the top of the stairway that is opened on activation of smoke detectors in the stairway enclosure and is additionally manually openable by fire man’s switch at the entrance level.

The third method of provision namely pressurisation is less common.

There are other locations where automatic opening vents are required (to assist means of escape and fire fighting operations) in taller building or where certain travel distance restrictions are exceeded and these too need to be properly managed and maintained.

Some of there systems may include dedicated smoke shafts up through the building that rely upon on a sophisticated system of automatic opening vents that open into the shaft at the affected level only thus preventing smoke contamination of other floors.

Other schemes rely upon sophisticated pressurisation systems to maintain a positive pressure in the stairway and thus prevent smoke from entering in the event of a fire.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • How the stairway ventilation is proposed to work, (auto venting, openable vents or pressurisation etc.)
  • How the lobby ventilation if any is proposed to work
  • In the case of automatic systems who maintains them and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out and recorded
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  • In addition details of what was agreed for stairway and lobby ventilation at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Sprinklers Systems (if provided)

Except in taller residential building designs the provision of sprinklers is not common.
However with the trend towards an increasing use of high rise design this is likely to change in the future.

Designs may comprise a single system throughout the residential development or may comprise a discrete domestic sprinkler systems specific to each apartment. (In mixed use developments designs may include sprinkler protection to the commercial or high fire load density occupancies without sprinkler protection to the apartments themselves).

These systems will normally be provided for the protection of the overall building and its occupants and as such requires to be properly maintained by the management company.
Clearly the proper maintenance of such systems would require access to the individual apartments where the system extends to the apartments.

In mixed-use developments there exists an added level of complexity in respect of the relationship between those managing the non-residential areas and the apartment owners the management company.

Whatever the design such systems are sophisticated and require to be maintained by specialists.
There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • How the system works
  • Who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out, and provisions for arranging access
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  • In addition details of what was agreed for the sprinkler system at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Participation in Fire Safety Instruction and Drills/ Evacuation Procedures and Information to Residents

It is normally not practical or possible to ensure that all occupants attend and participate in fire safety instruction or drills, but this is an issue that the management company requires to deal with nonetheless.

At the very least the management company requires to provide all its member with information in relation to:

  • Good fire safety practices and housekeeping including:
  • No storage in common areas
  • Waste to be disposed of properly in designated areas only
  • Fire doors shall not be interfered with nor wedged open
  • Prohibition on parking in designated fire appliance access and set down areas.
  • What to do in the event of an activation of the fire alarm
  • What to do if they discover a fire
  • Brief description of all the fire safety features incorporated into the building
  • Instruction in relation to location and use of fire fighting equipment
  • Co-operation with the fire safety management regimen for the building
  • Check out and be familiar with escape routes from the building,
  • Any special “house rules”
  • General fire safety (chip pans, portable heaters, smokers materials, equipment maintenance, especially smoke alarm system, electric blankets etc)
  • Advice concerning the fitting of locks on apartment entrance doors, (see 18.8 of BS 5588 Part 1 and commentary in next section hereunder)
  • The need for access to apartments for essential system maintenance
  • Other issues See section 40 of BS 5588 Part 1
  • Appropriate fire safety advice pertinent to the particular residential development to be prepared in writing and to be updated as necessary and delivered to all owners and occupiers of flats least once a year

Security Systems on Access Doors

This can be a particular problem at residential development with on one hand the need to provide simple to use means of escape and on the other need to provide adequate protection from personal attack or burglary of the property.

Often it is to this understandable concern that the occupants turn their attention and seek to instruct the management agents to secure the building in a fashion that is not compatible with fire safety.

  • The security on escape routes should not be reliant upon a fire detection and alarm system to render them “openable”.
  • The main entrance door to the building should be secured against unauthorised entry.
  • At all times the exits including the main entrance door must be “openable” from the inside whether or not the fire detection and alarm system has activated.
  • Generally there should not be panic bolts on internal doors on escape routes (only permitted on final exit doors as other doors may be needed for re-entry or if you need to change your initial decision to use a particular route of escape etc.)
  • No door on an escape should require a key or code to operate from the escape side,
    There are also particular recommendation (Sec.18.8, BS 5588 Part 1) for doors to the individual
  • Apartments themselves namely: It is preferable that these doors should be fitted with a lock which can be opened by a handle from either side and which can be locked on the outside by a key and on the inside only by a manually operated bolt.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • How the security system works
  • Who maintains it and their competency to do so
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair if the system goes wrong
  • In addition details of what was agreed for security at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Control of Common Areas (e.g. No Colonisation or Storage)

The fire safety design of apartment block is firmly based on the notion that the circulation and escape route are sterile areas free from obstruction and fire load.

There will be few exceptions to this but where a fire load is permitted it is usually limited and has been clearly described in smoke control design submitted as part of the fire safety certificate application say for instance in an atrium access type building.

Combustible furniture, fittings or ornamentation may sometimes be introduced by the management agents in the entrance lobby on the instruction of the management company but this is normally not permissible unless the particular layout of the escape routes has been specifically designed to cope with such an arrangement.

Sometimes designs provide for an individual apartment which may require to be separated from the commonly shared escape routes by a fire rated lobby (i.e. 2 no doors between the apartment and the escape route). Such arrangement while not desirable, do exist, and the management company must take suitable precautions to prevent against the colonisation of such spaces by the occupants or the annexation of these spaces into the particular apartment. In such cases the following applies:

  • The inner door to the private lobby to be the entrance door to the apartment and should be at least an FD30S doorset.
  • The outer door to the private lobby should be a minimum of 50% glazed FD30S doorset and the glazing should not be obscured nor the door fitted with a locking device.
  • The area between the two doors of the private lobby to be landlord area.
  • A permanent type sign to be posted in the lobby indicating the above items.
  • There should be a clear written description for management and the occupiers of what is or is not permitted in the circulation routes and a clear description of the management company’s authority and responsibility to deal with any infringement in this regard.
    Advice in this regard should form part of the fire safety advice package to all occupants each year
  • Details of what was agreed for lobbies, atria etc. at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation and enforcement

Management and Maintenance of Furniture and Equipment in Communal Facilities

The management of community areas such as meeting rooms or lounges or community facilities such as a laundry room for example requires to be strictly controlled, as an incident in one of these spaces can affect the safety and means of escape from the building for all the occupants. The selection and maintenance of furniture and fittings in these areas needs to be strictly controlled also.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of:

  • Who manages the facility and their competency to do so
  • Who selects the furniture and fittings in the first place and sets the standard of fire safety performance of these items and their competency to do so
  • Who maintains the furniture and equipment at the facility in a fire safe condition and their competency to do so
  • When is maintenance carried out
  • There must be clear “house rules” prohibiting the introduction (dumping) of furniture or equipment by occupants into these areas and measures put in place to deal with this matter if it arises
  • Who should be contacted for immediate repair/ action if furniture is damaged or equipment faulty in a way that constitutes a heightened fire hazard
  • Advice in this regard should form part of the fire safety advice package to all occupants each year

Measures to Control Opportunistic Illegal Parking that may Hinder Access

Relatively unimpeded access to the residential building by the fire service is required if an adequate fire fighting service is to be delivered.

The scheme will normally include properly designed fire fighting access routes and circulation roadways within the development. Thoughtless and stupid and opportunistic car parking can completely negate the aspects of the layout designed into the scheme to accommodate fire appliance and other emergency vehicle movement. This is particularly so at pinch points in the road layout where there may only be just enough room for a fire appliance to pass or again where residents or visitors have parked in turning circles etc.
Some schemes may include specific set down/ parking bays for emergency vehicles and here again the temptation exists for opportunistic car parking to take place.

There should be a clear understanding and written description (or drawing) of:

  • What areas are prohibited for car parking,
  • What permanent signposting and/or ground markings are required to identify these area to occupants/ visitors,
  • There should generally be a dedicated and clearly identified parking area for visiting vehicles.
  • Who should be contacted for immediate action in the event that an individual tenant consistently ignores these restrictions.
  • Advice in this regard should form part of the fire safety advice package to all occupants each year.
  • In addition details of what was agreed in this regard at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Control of Deliveries and Delivery Vehicles

There should be a suitable set down area (other that the emergency vehicle access routes) for vehicles making deliveries. In some developments particularly taller developments and multi block developments delivery personnel may be away from their vehicles for long periods while they make deliveries to remote occupancies. During this time such vehicles if badly parked can significantly hamper access for emergency
service vehicles.

  • In larger developments or in developments with critical pinch points for access, specific deliver vehicle set down areas should be provided and suitably marked and policed against opportunistic car parking by occupants.

Maintenance of Signposting and Way-Finding Measures to Assist Fire Fighting

As multi-unit residential developments become larger and more complex, particularly in multi-block developments it becomes increasingly difficult for responding fire crews to identify which unit or block even, is involved and it is proving necessary to provide large scale signs and way finding maps etc. to assist more rapid identification of the access route to follow.

  • This is even more complicated when for instance a multi block development includes under-ground car parking that extends under several blocks or even more complicated again extends under some blocks and not under others
  • The extent of a basement can not be seen from above and intelligent fire fighting decisions cannot be made unless suitable way finding information systems are provided for fire service personnel
  • Some schemes will include specific fire fighting access routes to such basements and unless their existence is communicated to the fire service in a simple and immediate way then they may be of no value at all in real fire situations
  • Taller or more complex development may include wet or dry risers or fire fighting shafts and if these features are to be used effectively then they must be properly signposted in an effective and immediately obvious way

There should be a clear description of any necessary signposting or way finding information system that must be provided on site including:

 

  • Who is responsible for their maintenance
  • Who should be contacted for immediate action in the event that such information systems are interfered with or damaged
  • In addition details of what was agreed in this regard at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Maintenance and Signposting Hydrants and Water Supplies

Normally fire-fighting operations rely on the provision of appropriate water supply in the form usually of hydrants and sometimes as static water supplies such as ponds or tanks etc.
The access to and identification of such facilities for speedy use is fundamental to successful fire fighting operations.

There should be a clear understanding and written description (or drawing) of what is provided in the way of fire fighting water supplies:

·  Who is responsible for their marking,
· Who is responsible for preventing their obstruction by car parking vegetation or other structures that might prevent timely access to the hydrant or static water supply.
· Who should be contacted for immediate action in the event that an individual tenant consistently ignores no parking signposting or if any such markings are interfered with or damaged.
· Who should arrange for periodic inspection of the installation and testing and maintenance of hydrants in the development and the cleaning of hydrant chambers etc.
· In addition details of what was agreed in this regard at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation.

Fire Safe Management of Waste Disposal

Refuse and other waste or recyclable materials can give rise to considerable fire risk and if not properly managed can be an unacceptable risk from the point of view of fire load and the occurrence of accidental or malicious fire.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of how waste is to be disposed of and stored at the development:
· Who is responsible for ensuring that waste is deposited only in the designated areas,
· Who is responsible for ensuring that the waste material are removed in a timely manner to prevent against the accumulation of excessive fire loads,
· Who is responsible for ensuring that the waste storage facility is managed so as not to present an unacceptable fire safety hazard,
· Who should be contacted for immediate action in the event that an individual tenant ignores the “house rules” in this regard,
· Advice in this regard should form part of the fire safety advice package to all occupants each year.
· In addition details of what was agreed in this regard at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Control Of New Works (e.g. Extensions, Material Alterations)

The carrying out of works within an individual occupancy is not only a matter for the occupants of that unit alone but must be regulated by the management company also as some works could have an effect of the fire safety aspects of the overall building affecting other tenants also.
Even if this is not the case it should not be available to an individual tenant to adjudicate unilaterally and perhaps incorrectly as to whether or not the proposed works affect aspects of the overall fire safety or structure. This is even more so the case where the overall building is a system built scheme as for instance with timber framed construction or volumetric steel framed pod construction etc..

All new works must be approved by the management company and in this regard there must exist:

· A formal process for advising the management company of any proposed works,
· he management company must appoint competent persons to evaluate the proposed scheme and require the occupant to obtain a fire safety certificate for such works if necessary,
· Who should be contacted for immediate action in the event that an individual tenant ignores this process,
· Advice in this regard should form part of the fire safety advice package to all occupants each year.

Managing the Responsibility of Other Tenancies (e.g. Retail Units, Offices)

Sometimes the residential element of the development may be mixed with other commercial elements and often the overall safety of the residential sections may rely in part on certain precautions or fire safety systems in the non residential sections of the developments (e.g.: Fire detection and alarm system, structural fire protection systems, sprinkler systems in the non residential sections etc.).
The form of management company in such circumstances may be quite different from the stand alone residential-only developments and the residential units may in fact be subject to long leases from a landlord type arrangement in which case the landlord retains all of the fire safety responsibilities and can co-ordinate all the fire safety function in different parts of the overall development. If some hybrid type of management arrangement is provided then it is incumbent on the management with responsibility for the residential element to obtain the necessary
certificates form competent sources that the necessary fire safety features within the non residential section are being properly attended to.
This of course can only be done if such a legal relationship exists between the various parts of the overall development from the beginning. An example of such an arrangement might be where a residential tower rises off a podium or roof over a retail park or shopping centre type development and this type of mixed development is becoming much more prevalent especially in the Dublin area.

There should be a clearly defined legal relationship between the management of other non residential parts of the development and the management of the residential part with clearly defined responsibilities and duties and clearly defined legal remedies that can be enforced in an immediate manner in the case of one of the parties defaulting.

(This is definitely a complex legal area (if allowed in law) and is beyond the writers experience to comment competently and would present both the Fire Authority and the residential management company with a complex legal predicament if there was a problem identified in one part of a development that could not be remedied by the management company with responsibility for that part of the development.)

Special Provisions: (e.g. Smoke Control/Clearance Systems, Special Arrangements inter alia)

Many designs are complex and give rise to new and problems which may be solved at design stage in a novel fashion and may rely upon special provisions which are agreed at fire safety certificate application stage.

It is necessary for these special provisions (which underpin the decisions to grant the fire safety certificates that allow the development to be built) to be maintained into the future.
It is necessary for any such provision to be properly recorded and maintained and the management company must assume this special responsibility.

There should be a clear understanding and written description of any special provision which was designed into the scheme (so that the management company can manage this provision properly) and the management company must appoint competent persons to attend to these matters including:
· Who maintains the systems and their competency to do so,
· Who should be contacted for immediate action in the event that any such system is not functioning properly
· Advice in relation to these systems may need to form part of the fire safety advice package to all occupants each year.
· Details of what was agreed in this regard at fire safety certificate stage should be kept available for consultation

Access to Apartments for Fire Safety Maintenance

In landlord type buildings access to individual apartments is generally not a problem however in the typical purpose built apartment blocks this can be more difficult to organise.

However the management company is charged with the responsibility of maintaining various building system including fire safety systems and must be able to gain access to carry out necessary maintenance.

All the apartments are seen as part of a single building community from a fire safety point of view and a fire in one unit affect the fire safety of all the others.
Consequently the fire authority or other regulatory agencies may require access to individual or all apartments in order to discharge its functions and be satisfied that all of the required precautions have been taken and are maintained in good condition.

It is desirable that the management company retains the right of entry into individual apartments to carry out effective maintenance on equipment including for example:
· detectors and sounders on the fire detection and alarm system and in the interest of avoidance of false alarms and nuisance to the occupants of other units.
· to ascertain that particular items that have a bearing on the fire safety of others building occupants are properly maintained for example to ensure that the apartment access door is in good condition and continues to provide the fire resistance prescribed in the building design and that the door closer has not been removed or disabled nor in-tumescent strips removed or damaged etc..
· It should be possible for a regulatory authority such as the fire authority to immediately contact the management company with a view to arranging access to carry out inspections in any or all individual apartments

Periodic Auditing and Reporting of Fire Safety Management Issues and Keeping a Suitable Fire Safety Logbook

Many of the systems described above require periodic maintenance/ proactive intervention and it is necessary for all of these matters to be properly recorded in a competent professional manner

As the prevailing circumstances change or a national standards change in respect of fire safety issues it is necessary for the management company to review its fire safety management procedures and to recommend renewal of safety systems as seen appropriate and to reasonably anticipate that certain safety systems will require replacement or upgrading in the future.

It is necessary for a suitable fire safety logbook to be maintained for this purpose and it should as a minimum include the following (See Appendix F –Fire Safety Register DOEH&LG guide ‘Fire Safety in Flats’)
· Details of Premises (Address, Owner, Management Company)
· Details of Fire Fighting Equipment (Inventory, inspection & maintenance
· Details of Emergency Lighting System (Installation, Inspection Maintenance, and works carried out)
· Details of Fire Detection and Alarm System (Zones, Detectors, Call Points, Inspections, Maintenance and works carried out)
· Details of Fire Doors (Inventory, Inspections, Maintenance and works carried out)

Note larger more complex premises will have correspondingly more complex logbooks

Periodic reviews of fire safety regimen for the building to be carried out from time to time and the
management should appoint competent persons to do so with a view to certifying that the management company is meeting its responsibility in this regard and with a view to keeping member advised of reasonably foreseeable expenses associated with the replacement of major safety systems.

Maintenance of Fire Safety Certificate Application Documentation, for Reference of Management Agents/ Inspection by occupiers

Most of the modern apartment developments will have been subject to a formal approval process under building control legislation and a fire safety certificate for the design of the building would have to have been obtained before the building was built. The details of that particular approved design and the undertakings given by it should be known to the management company so that it can discharge its responsibility to ensure that the building is in compliance with its fire safety certificate.

A copy of the approved fire safety certificate application documentation, should be kept available for inspection/ consultation by the management company or any of its members or for inspection by authorized inspecting officers from the fire or building control authority and should include a copy of the following:

· The fire safety certificate Application form
· Any Letters accompanying the application or submitted during the course of its assessment,
· The final approved fire safety technical report (sometime referred to as the “compliance Report”) which accompanied the application
· Any supplementary reports or clarifications submitted as part of the application.
· Drawings including:
- Site location map
- Site plan,
- Floor plans,
- Sections
- Elevations
· The certificate as issued including any conditions etc.
· Details of any appeal documents/ decisions.

For more information

Dublin Fire Brigade Headquarters
165-169 Townsend Street
Dublin 2

Tel: (01) 673 4000
Fax: (01) 673 4085
Email: fire@dublincity.ie