Guide to Fire Safety in Flats, Bedsitters, and Apartments

A fire safety assessment is a specific inspection and assessment of fire safety provisions and features in each apartment or duplex building, taking into account, but not limited to the:

  • Basis of design compliance,
  • Complexity of the building,
  • Age of buildings,
  • Construction characteristics,
  • Building location,
  • Passive/active fire safety systems, etc.

Professional Competence

The assessment should be undertaken by a competent professional.

When planning the assessment, the competent professional should consider the scale and scope of fire safety assessment appropriate for the building concerned.

The assessment must include an on-site survey or inspection of the building. The assessment must also include a review of the procedures for the management of fire safety in the building to ensure that they are to appropriate standards and comply with Section 18(2) of the Fire Services Acts 1981 and 2003.

Compliance Standards

The assessment should be undertaken accordance with compliance standards

The fire safety assessment should be undertaken in accordance with the “Code of Practice for the Fire Safety Assessment of Premises and Buildings” (2022) published by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Additionally, due consideration should be given to the provisions in the following publications:

  • Framework for Enhancing Fire Safety in Dwellings where concerns arise (2017), with particular attention to the risk assessment methodology.
  • Fire Safety Guide for Building Owners and Operators – Guide for Persons having Control under Section 18(2) Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003 (2023), with particular attention to the guidance on the general day-to-day operation and maintenance of fire safety measures relevant to purpose-built apartment and duplexes.

Basis of Design Compliance

Assessing Fire Safety Strategy and Compliance with Regulatory Standards

The fire safety assessment of each apartment or duplex building should begin with an assessment of the intended fire safety strategy design. This is followed by consulting, in the first instance, with the relevant granted Fire Safety Certificate (FSC) application(s)), the FSC as granted, and their associated documentation.

Where an FSC is not available or does not exist, the requirements of the Building Regulations as existed at the time of construction, or other relevant standards, where appropriate, should be applied.

In the case of buildings built before 1992, the “Guide to fire safety in flats, Bedsitters and Apartments” or BS 5588-1 or other appropriate alternative design may be appropriate.

Building Survey

The building survey should be a comprehensive assessment of the as-constructed apartment or duplex building.

The building survey should, in particular, include the following areas:

  • Common circulation areas
  • Interior of each compartment/apartment
  • Inter-compartment construction
  • The external wall construction
  • Associated external site areas facilities and access arrangements.

The survey should consider construction deemed not to be delivering the standard of fire safety protection set out in the design and/or the expected construction. It should consider whether the construction demonstrates compliance with Parts B1 to B5 of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, as existed at the time of construction, or other relevant standards, where appropriate.

It will be necessary to undertake sufficient opening up works, and in some cases material testing may be required, to establish the nature and extent of any fire safety defects.

The building survey needs to be as comprehensive as necessary to identify all fire safety defects.

Opening Up Works

Identifying Fire Safety Defects Through Opening Up Works

In order to identify the nature and extent of any fire safety defects that may be present in purpose-built apartments and duplexes, opening up works will be required. Any opening up works required should be identified during the fire safety assessment and carried out in conjunction with the building survey.

Fire Safety Assessment Record

Documenting Fire Safety Assessment Findings

A comprehensive and tabulated written record of matters of concern and fire safety defects identified during the fire safety assessment should be prepared for this stage of the assessment process, with each item duly identified against an agreed naming convention for the various locations around the building.

The assessment record should identify if the defects are likely to be stand-alone items or if they form a pattern of repeating defects located throughout the building.

The assessment record should indicate the probable cause of each defect, i.e. whether attributable to defective design, defective or faulty workmanship, or defective materials (or any combination of these). These defects will have to be risk-assessed against the original intended outcome.

Aidan O'Connell

FIEI, Chartered Engineer

Aidan is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Ireland with over 38 years of experience in the design, project management, and construction sectors. He has a deep understanding of the industry and needs of clients and leverages this experience to deliver tailor made solutions that align with each client’s goals and objectives.

Aidan is an Expert Contributor to the National Standards Authority Ireland (NSAI) and regularly acts as an Expert Witness for all major insurers in Ireland and the U.K. He is recognised as an industry leading expert in the  identification and remediation of latent defects related to Fire Safety, Structures, Water Ingress, and Cladding problems and has only in the last year successfully completed a number of large multimillion remediation projects in Ireland, the U.K. and Europe, specifically targeting Fire Safety and Water Ingress matters. Aidan’s knowledge and experience across numerous regulatory and legal jurisdictions ensures a very comprehensive and balanced approach to all projects.

Aidan holds a Bachelor’s in Engineering from University College Dublin and several other technical and project management qualifications from Trinity College, demonstrating his passion for and commitment to continued professional development.


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