High-rise Cork: Is our fire service equipped for a blaze in a 34-storey tower?

High-rise Cork: Is our fire service equipped for a blaze in a 34-storey tower?
The proposed Custom House Quay development

CORK City Council has said it will be ready to adapt to fire safety requirements for high-rise buildings that are going through the planning process in the city.

Green Party councillor Dan Boyle asked if the council is satisfied that its fire service has sufficient capacity to deal with fires occurring in high-rise buildings, given proposals to construct an increasing number of tall buildings in the city. There are planning applications in place for a 34-storey skyscraper at Custom House Quay, while its developer Tower Holdings is also progressing a project to build the 14-storey Prism building on Clontarf Street.

Plans are also in the pipeline for a 25-storey apartment tower on Albert Quay, on the site of the old Sextant bar.

A view of the proposed new 25-storey JCD Group residential development on the Carey's Tool Hire and former Sextant bar site. 
A view of the proposed new 25-storey JCD Group residential development on the Carey's Tool Hire and former Sextant bar site. 

More high-rise developments are expected in the near future, particularly on the docklands as huge brownfield regeneration gathers pace.

City Hall director Adrienne Rodgers said planning guidelines and conditions will take into account fire control and firefighter numbers will grow in line with the city’s needs.

“Cork City Fire and Building Control Department are dealing with a number of applications for tall buildings under the building regulations legislation,” said Ms Rodgers.

There are specific guidelines on what would be termed high-rise buildings.

For firefighting purposes, a high-rise building is defined as a building containing floors at such a height or position that the deployment of external firefighting equipment and rescue operations may not be feasible.

Ms Rodgers said: “In Ireland, the building regulations require all buildings over 18m in height to make provisions for firefighting and search and rescue and evacuation. These buildings are designed with built-in fire compartments to impede fire spread and have inherent firefighting facilities to aid the Fire Department in fire-fighting. Fire safety management of these buildings and interaction with the Fire Department in pre- incident planning is a critical component of their safety.”

Ms Rodgers said city firefighters will be trained in line with the increase in high-rise buildings and a number of funding applications are in place to expand the firefighting force.

“Cork City Fire Department has always adapted in line with the development of the city. We endeavour to ensure our firefighters are trained in the most up-to-date international best practices have the latest in personal protective equipment and avail of the latest technology and guidance.

“Cork City Council is planning a recruitment campaign which is to commence this quarter,” Ms Rodgers added.

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