Long Boat Quay is an apartment block on Sir Rogerson’s Quay that was built in 2006 by now-bankrupt builder Bernard McNamara and the building is now in the news because Dublin City has informed the residents that the apartment owners would have to pay EUR 4mio to make the building fire-proof or they will get evicted.
This is not the first time something like that is happening. Priory Hall in North Dublin is currently costing Dublin City 27mio to refurbish it and the residents were evicted there as well.
But how can something like that happen? Why are plans not checked before planning permission is given or before the building is built? Why is a building not checked before people are moving in to make sure that the building meets the specs? If efficient checks were part of the process at the right time, it should never happen that a building is later found inadequate!
Reading articles about Long Boat Quay, you wonder if the situation is not a good bit more complicated than it appears at first: Allegedly Dublin Fire Brigade gave the Ok for the building in 2011, but then seemingly withdrew this Ok in 2013. Could that be? That would be shocking and suddenly a large part of the fault would be with the Dublin Fire Brigade or Dublin City.
It also seems that where suddenly there is such a hurry now, last year things were seen less critical: The Irish Examiner writes that “an internal Dublin Fire Brigade report recommended the serving of a fire notice on Longboat Quay in May of last year”. So more than a year nothing happened and the building was not seen as dangerous, but now it is so urgent that the residents need to move out by 01 November?
The Irish Examiner article lists some of the defects that the Dublin Fire Brigade found, but when an RTE programme had a consultant engineer visit the place, he listed completely different issues. The engineer said here that the building had been fitted with a fire detection and warning system designed to “suit a suburban semi-detached house, not an apartment in a complex in the centre of Dublin”. And that “most of the doors in each apartment looked fire-resistant but had no fire or smoke seals” and he was “particularly concerned” about the fact that there is no door between the kitchen and living areas.
RTE’s engineer obviously has different eyes or had a different focus than the Dublin Fire Brigade, but if the engineer RTE got is right, then I better quickly look for a tent or a bridge to sleep under, because the apartment I live in is then definitely not safe: One single smoke alarm per apartment; no automatic smoke vents in the public area; no fire seals at apartment doors and the door to the kitchen has never been closed. My eviction notice must be in the post! And what about apartments where kitchen and dining room are one?
Are there maybe different standards applied? Or are the experts checking these newer apartments the type of Health&Safety nuts that get palpitations when someone uses a bread knife or lights a candle with an OPEN FLAME. *shock horror*
There is incompetence somewhere, but can we be certain that we have identified the contributor with the highest incompetence yet?