ACEI was recently in communication with the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management within the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to request information on fire safety and fire protection systems. The following information was provided:
Fire servicing and maintenance of fire safety and fire protection systems in buildings support the fire safety of building occupants, and assist persons having control over buildings to meet their statutory duties. The primary legislation governing fire safety in the occupation of buildings in Ireland is set out in the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003. Section 18(2) of the Acts provides for duties on the person having control over premises to which the section applies in respect of fire safety on the premises.
The text of the sub-section reads:
“(2) It shall be the duty of every person having control over premises to which this section applies to—
(a) take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire on such premises,
(b) provide reasonable fire safety measures for such premises and prepare and provide appropriate fire safety procedures for ensuring the safety of persons on such premises,
(c) ensure that the fire safety measures and procedures referred to in paragraph (b) are applied at all times, and
(d) ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of persons on the premises in the event of an outbreak of fire whether such outbreak has occurred or not.”
It is generally considered that servicing and maintenance of fire safety and fire protection systems installed in buildings are necessary for compliance with section 18(2) responsibilities. In the majority of cases, building owners have arrangements in place with specialist service providers to carry out this work.
Statutory Instrument No. 121 of 2020 (Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) Regulations 2020) provides for restriction of movement of persons from their place of residence, except where they have reasonable excuse. Regulation 4(2)(a) provides that provision of, or assistance in the provision of, an essential service constitutes a reasonable excuse. Regulation 3 provides that “essential service” means a service specified in Schedule 2 to the Regulations.
While it is for each service provider to consider the position with regard to whether their activity is an essential service, the Department view is that the provisions of the Regulations provide scope for work required for servicing and maintenance of fire safety and fire protection systems in buildings to be carried out in compliance with the Regulations.