Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 02 October, 2007
Written Answers. - Fire Stations.
Deputy Tony Gregory Deputy Tony Gregory
Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the major fires (details supplied), he will ensure that the EPA and the fire authorities re-examine public safety measures at these plants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21442/07]
Deputy Tony Killeen Deputy Tony Killeen
Deputy Tony Killeen: The Fire Services Act, 1981 places a duty of care on persons, having control of premises to which the Act applies, to take all reasonable measures to prevent the outbreak of fire and to ensure as far as possible the safety of those using the premises in the event of fire. The Act also enables fire authorities to provide advice on fire safety measures to owners or occupiers of any premises. Pre-fire planning is undertaken by fire authorities for premises in respect of which they consider it warranted. The enforcement provisions and penalties for offences under the Fire Services Act, 1981 have been significantly strengthened in recent times. Notwithstanding prevention and mitigation procedures, fires do still occur and in the event of an incident occurring at a premises, it is a matter for the relevant fire authority to provide advice and guidance to the owner or person in control to rectify  any perceived deficiencies in fire safety procedures for that premises.
Each local authority also has a Major Emergency Plan which may be activated in the event of a major emergency. The Major Emergency Plans, which take account of potentially hazardous facilities, are reviewed on a regular basis and tested, including through inter agency exercises with the other principal response agencies, normally An Garda Síochána and the Health Services Executive. As part of the Major Emergency Development Programme, 2006-2008, local authorities are conducting risk assessments of potentially hazardous facilities within their functional areas. This risk assessment will be taken into account in the development of the new updated emergency plans.
In considering an application for an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control licence, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examines, amongst other things, the necessary measures to be taken by the applicant to prevent accidents in the carrying on of an activity and where an accident occurs, the measures to be taken to limit its consequences for the environment.
The Protim Abrasives warehouse in Cork, where a fire occurred in September 2007, is not a site licensed by the EPA and is therefore outside the remit of the Agency. However, I understand that the Agency provided advice to Cork County Council on the investigation and assessment of the impact of the fire on the environment. The Protim Abrasives factory in Dublin, subject of a fire in June 2006, is a facility which is subject to Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control licensing by the Agency. Licensing of relevant activities including conditions attached to a licence and monitoring of compliance with a licence, are matters for the Agency.
Dáil Éireann 638 Written Answers. Fire Stations.