Fire Safety Inspections
Under the provisions of the Fire Services Act, 1981, authorised inspectors from the Fire Services can visit and inspect any building within their jurisdiction. They may ask for any of the following details:
- The number of employees or occupants in the building
- The purpose of any room or area in the building
- The materials used in the building's construction
- Any official documents relating to the building's safety.
The inspectors can also examine the water supply and are permitted to bring any necessary equipment with them onto a site and examine or test any heating, lighting or ventilation systems and any substances used or stored within a premises.
Owners of property can be asked by a Fire Services inspector to provide drawings or plans of buildings under their ownership. The owner is legally obliged to provide a satisfactory response to the inspector.
If the inspector is not happy with what he or she finds, he or she can make an application to the High Court for an order requiring the removal, alteration or making safe of any structure, service, fitting or piece of equipment or an order restricting construction work at the site or prohibiting the use of a building until the required changes have been made. If the High Court grants such an order, its terms are legally binding on the owner of the building or site. Offenders can face a fine of up to 635 euro or up to six months imprisonment and further fines of up to 635 euro calculated by the day may apply if the terms of the order are not complied with.
If a Fire Services inspector is refused entry, obstructed or impeded in his or her duties, it is considered a criminal offence that is punishable by a fine of up to 635 euro or six months imprisonment. A Fire Services inspector can apply to the District Court for a warrant if he or she is refused entry to a building or site.
The Fire Services also have a role in examining and testing dangerous substances such as petroleum to ensure compliance under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 and Dangerous Substances Regulations, 1979. The Dangerous Substances Act states that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government may make an order defining any substance that has the potential to damage person or property as a dangerous substance. If you are in possession of such a substance, you must apply to your local authority for a Dangerous Substances licence.
Those in possession of more than 60 gallons of petrol, for example, must apply for a licence for that petrol. Applicants have to submit copies of Ordnance Survey maps of the area and architects' plans of the site and any buildings on the site to their local authority. This information is necessary so that the Fire Services can ensure that dangerous substances, most commonly large amounts of petrol at petrol stations and industrial sites, are stored safely and kept at a reasonable distance from other buildings.