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30 1981

FIRE SERVICES ACT, 1981

PART III

Fire Fighting and Fire Safety

General obligations with regard to fire safety.

18. —(1) This section applies to premises or any part thereof put to any of the following uses—

(a) use as, or for any purpose involving the provision of, sleeping accommodation, excluding premises consisting of a dwelling house occupied as a single dwelling;

(b) use as, or as part of, an institution providing treatment or care;

(c) use for purposes of entertainment, recreation or instruction or for the purpose of any club, society or association;

(d) use for purposes of teaching, training or research;

(e) use for any purpose involving access to the premises by members of the public, whether on payment or otherwise; and

(f) use for any other prescribed purpose, but excluding—

(i) premises used as a factory within the meaning of the Safety in Industry Acts, 1955 and 1980;

(ii) premises used as a store and subject to licensing under regulations made under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 ;

(iii) a magazine, store or registered premises within the meaning of the Explosives Act, 1875; and

(iv) an oil jetty within the meaning of regulations under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 .

(2) It shall be the duty of every person having control over premises to which this section applies to take all reasonable measures to guard against the outbreak of fire on such premises, and to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable the safety of persons on the premises in the event of an outbreak of fire.

(3) It shall be the duty of every person, being on premises to which this section applies, to conduct himself in such a way as to ensure that as far as is reasonably practicable any person on the premises is not exposed to danger from fire as a consequence of any act or omission of his.

(4) A fire authority may give advice in relation to fire safety to the owner or occupier of any premises or to any person having control over any premises.

Potentially dangerous building.

19. —(1) In this Act “potentially dangerous building” means any building which would, in the event of a fire occurring therein, constitute a serious danger to life for any of the following reasons—

(a) the fact that large numbers of persons habitually resort thereto or are accommodated therein;

(b) the absence of any or any adequate appliances or fittings—

(i) for extinguishing fires occurring in the building,

(ii) for enabling the occupants to escape on the occurrence of a fire,

(iii) for the automatic detection of an outbreak of fire,

(iv) for giving warning to persons in case of fire,

(v) for securing that the means of escape can be safely and effectively used at all times, or

(vi) for emergency lighting;

(c) the flammable nature of the materials of which the building is made;

(d) the flammable nature of the furniture, furnishings and fittings in the building;

(e) the absence of adequate means of egress from the building;

(f) the absence of any or any adequate notices as to the procedure which should be followed in the event of fire;

(g) the flammable, explosive or potentially explosive nature of anything used, stored or deposited within the building;

(h) the fact that a fire therein would be likely to spread rapidly within the building or to other premises;

(i) the fact that any power supply or lighting system with which the building is provided is defective, inadequate or inadequately maintained;

(j) the fact that any heating or ventilating system with which the building is provided is defective or inadequately maintained or presents a fire hazard; or

(k) any similar reason.

(2) In this section “building” includes any part of a building but does not include—

(a) premises consisting of a dwelling house occupied as a single dwelling;

(b) premises constituting a factory within the meaning of the Safety in Industry Acts, 1955 and 1980;

(c) premises consisting of a store subject to licensing under regulations made under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 ;

(d) a magazine, store or registered premises within the meaning of the Explosives Act, 1875; or

(e) an oil jetty within the meaning of regulations under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 .

Fire safety notices.

20. —(1) A fire authority may serve on the owner or occupier of any building which appears to the authority to be a potentially dangerous building a notice (in this Act referred to as a fire safety notice) in accordance with this section.

(2) A fire safety notice in relation to a building may—

(a) prohibit the use of the building, or a specified part of the building, for the purpose or any of the purposes specified in the notice;

(b) prohibit the use of the building, or a specified part of the building, for the purpose or any of the purposes specified in the notice unless or until specified precautions are taken to the satisfaction of the fire authority whether by the provision in the building of specified appliances or fittings or by the execution of specified structural alterations or additions to the building, or by the removal from the building of furniture, furnishings, fittings or any other material or thing, or by the doing in relation to the building or its contents of any other thing whatsoever.

(3) A fire safety notice may impose on the owner or occupier of a building requirements as to—

(a) the provision and maintenance of exit signs, emergency lighting and notices as to the procedure to be followed in the event of fire;

(b) the arrangements to be made for the provision and maintenance of equipment and fittings for fire detection, fire prevention, the extinguishing of fires, the giving of warning in case of fire, and for securing that the means of escape can be safely and effectively used at all material times;

(c) the installation, maintenance and use of the power, lighting, heating and ventilating systems of the building;

(d) the arrangements to be made for the safe storage of flammable, explosive or potentially explosive articles or materials used, stored or deposited in the building;

(e) the measures to be taken for securing that persons employed in the building receive appropriate instruction or training in fire safety, and in what to do in the event of fire, and that records are kept of such instruction or training;

(f) the holding of fire safety evacuation drills at specified intervals, and that records are kept of such drills;

(g) the nomination of an appropriate person or persons employed in the building to have responsibility for fire safety measures in the building; and

(h) limiting the number of persons who may be in the building at any one time.

(4) Where a fire safety notice requires the carrying out of any work and the owner or occupier alleges that the whole or part of the expense of the work should be borne by the occupier or owner, he may apply to the District Court for an order concerning the expenses or their apportionment and the Court shall have jurisdiction to make such order as it thinks just.

(5) Where a fire authority is of the opinion that a flammable, explosive or potentially explosive substance is used, stored or deposited adjacent to buildings in such a manner as to represent a serious danger to life, the authority may serve a fire safety notice on the owner or occupier of the land on which the substance is used, stored or deposited requiring the taking of specified measures to reduce the danger to a reasonable level.

(6) A fire safety notice may specify a time within which any requirement shall be complied with.

(7) A fire precautions notice in force under the Fire Brigades Act, 1940 , immediately before the commencement of this section shall continue in force and shall be deemed to be a fire safety notice.

(8) Each fire authority shall keep at its offices a register of fire safety notices served by it and the register shall be open to inspection by any person at all reasonable times.

Appeal against fire safety notice.

21. —(1) A person on whom a fire safety notice is served may, within fourteen days from the date of service, appeal against the notice to the District Court on any one or more of the following grounds:

(a) that he is not the owner or occupier of the building or land,

(b) that the building is not a potentially dangerous building,

(c) that the notice is unreasonable because of the improbability of a fire occurring in the building or because of the improbability of serious danger to life arising from fire or arising from the use, storage or deposit of a substance to which a notice under section 20 (5) relates,

(d) that compliance with the requirements of the notice would involve unreasonable expense or an unreasonable interference with the use of the building or land,

(e) that the notice specified an unreasonably short time for complying with its requirements or any of them.

(2) Notice of the appeal shall be given to the fire authority and that authority shall be entitled to appear, be heard and adduce evidence on the hearing of the appeal.

(3) On the hearing of the appeal the Court may, as it thinks proper, either—

(a) confirm the notice unconditionally, or

(b) confirm the notice subject to such modifications, alterations, or additions as the Court thinks reasonable, or

(c) annul the notice.

(4) Where the Court confirms the notice, subject to modifications, alterations or additions, the notice shall have effect subject to such modifications, alterations or additions.

(5) The notice shall not have effect until—

(a) the expiration of fourteen days from the date of service of the notice, or

(b) if an appeal is taken and the notice is confirmed, with or without modifications, the date upon which the decision of the Court is pronounced.

(6) The jurisdiction conferred on the District Court by this section shall be exercised by the Justice of that court having jurisdiction in the district in which the building or land is situate.

(7) No appeal shall lie to the Circuit Court from a decision of the District Court under this section.

(8) (a) A fire precautions notice served under the Fire Brigades Act, 1940 , within fourteen days before the commencement of this section shall be deemed to be a fire safety notice and a reference in the notice to the proprietor shall be taken as a reference to the owner or occupier of the building.

(b) An appeal against the notice may be taken and determined under this section and an appeal pending under that Act may be continued and determined under this section by the owner or occupier of the building as if, in either case, this section were in force on the date of service of the notice.

Powers of inspection by authorised persons.

22. —(1) In this section “authorised person” means a person authorised for the purposes of this section by a fire authority.

(2) Any authorised person shall be entitled to enter at all reasonable times (subject to his producing, if so required, his authority in writing as such person) and inspect any land or building (other than a dwelling house occupied as a single dwelling) for the purposes of this Act.

(3) Any authorised person may—

(a) inspect any water supply in a building or on any land;

(b) inspect all records required to be kept by a fire safety notice or by regulations;

(c) require to be informed by the owner or occupier of any land or building or by any person in his employment as to the purpose for which the land or building or any particular part thereof is used, the number of persons who are habitually employed or accommodated therein or resort thereto, the substance of which any building is made and the method of its construction and any other matter which the authorised person considers to be relevant.

(4) A fire authority may by notice in writing require the owner or occupier of land or a building to provide the authority, within such period as it may specify, with such plans (including line or simple dimensional drawings) of the land or building, and with such information in writing as it may require and it shall be the duty of the owner or occupier to comply with the notice.

(5) An authorised person shall be entitled in the exercise of his powers under this section to take with him on to land or into a building such persons and equipment as he considers necessary to assist him and to examine and test any ventilation, heating, power or lighting system and any materials or substances used, stored or deposited on the land or in the building and to take samples for the purpose of testing any such materials or substances.

(6) Any person who—

(a) refuses to allow an authorised person to enter any land or building or to take any person or equipment with him in the exercise of his power under this section, or

(b) obstructs or impedes an authorised person in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on him by this section, or

(c) fails or refuses to give to an authorised person on demand or to the fire authority pursuant to a notice in writing any plan or information which he or the authority is entitled to require under this section, or

(d) wilfully or recklessly gives to an authorised person or a fire authority information which is false or misleading in a material respect, or

(e) fails to comply with any requirement of this section,

shall be guilty of an offence.

(7) Where an authorised person is refused entry to land or a building in the exercise of his powers under this section the fire authority may apply to the District Court for a warrant authorising such entry.

Order of High Court as to use of land and buildings.

23. —(1) Where a fire authority considers that the risk to persons in the event of fire is so serious that the use of particular land or a particular building, or part thereof, should be restricted or should be immediately prohibited until specified measures have been taken to reduce the risk to a reasonable level, it may apply to the High Court for an order restricting or prohibiting the use of the land or building accordingly.

(2) The application for the order shall be by motion, and the High Court may make such interim or interlocutory order as it considers appropriate.

(3) Any such order shall have effect notwithstanding the terms of any permission given under any other enactment for the use of the land or building or part thereof.

Licensing of premises under other enactments.

24. —The applicant for—

(a) a certificate for the grant or renewal of a licence (other than an off-licence) under the Licensing Acts, 1833 to 1981,

(b) the grant or renewal of a certificate of registration under the Registration of Clubs Acts, 1904 to 1981,

(c) a licence in respect of premises under—

(i) the Public Dance Halls Act, 1935 , or

(ii) Part IV of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act, 1890, or

(d) a certificate in respect of premises under the Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956 to 1979,

shall give one month's notice in writing (or such shorter period of notice as the fire authority may in the special circumstances of the case agree to accept) of the application to the fire authority in the functional area of which the premises are situated, and the fire authority may appear, be heard and adduce evidence in respect of the application on the hearing thereof.

Fire-fighting and emergencies.

25. —A fire authority may carry out or assist in any operations of an emergency nature, whether or not a risk of fire is involved, and a fire authority may accordingly make such provision for the rescue or safeguarding of persons and protection of property as it considers necessary for the purposes of that function.

Fire and Emergency Operations Plans.

26. —(1) Each fire authority which maintains a fire brigade shall prepare (and, as occasion requires, revise) plans for fire and emergency operations showing the provision made by it in respect of organisation, appliances, equipment, fire stations, water supplies and extinguishing agents, training, operational procedure and such other matters as may be relevant, and for dealing with operations of an emergency nature under section 25 .

(2) A copy of every plan made or revised under this section shall be furnished by the fire authority to the Minister who may, if he thinks proper, direct that plans of adjoining authorities be co-ordinated.

(3) The making and revision of a plan shall be a reserved function.

Control of operations at a fire or other emergency.

27. —(1) Where one or more fire brigades are present at a fire occurring in the functional area of a fire authority, sole charge and control of all operations for extinguishing the fire shall be vested as follows—

(a) if the fire authority maintains a fire brigade and that fire brigade is present at the fire—in the person who is for the time being in charge of that fire brigade at the fire;

(b) if the fire authority does not maintain a fire brigade but has made an agreement with a fire authority for the performance of its fire-fighting functions and the brigade of that fire authority is present at the fire—in the person who is for the time being in charge of that fire brigade at the fire;

(c) in any other case—in the person who is for the time being in charge of the fire brigade of a fire authority which first arrives at the fire.

(2) Fire authorities may by agreement provide, notwithstanding anything in subsection (1), for the vesting of sole charge and control of all operations for extinguishing a fire in any person who is for the time being in charge of a fire brigade at a fire and for the transfer of such charge and control from one person to another.

(3) Whenever and so long as no fire brigade of a fire authority is present at a fire, the senior member of the Garda Síochána present at the fire shall have sole charge and control of all operations for extinguishing the fire.

(4) The Minister may by regulations provide—

(a) for the control of any operations of a fire authority under section 25 , other than operations for extinguishing a fire, and

(b) for the vesting of sole charge and control of such operations and for the transfer of such charge and control from one person to another in such circumstances as are prescribed.

(5) In this Act, “the person in control”, in relation to a fire or other emergency, means the person in whom is vested, by or under this section, the sole charge and control of all operations for extinguishing a fire or of any other operations of a fire authority under section 25 .

Ancillary powers.

28. —(1) The person in control at a fire or other emergency may, either personally or by a member of a fire brigade present at the incident or by a member of the Garda Síochána, or by such other person as he authorises, do (if necessary, by force) all such things as are, in his opinion, necessary or expedient for the purpose of extinguishing the fire or for protecting or rescuing persons or property and, in particular, may—

(a) enter any land or building in which there is reason to believe fire has broken out or the emergency exists or any other land or building;

(b) cause any land or building to be vacated by the occupants;

(c) pull down or demolish any building or part of a building;

(d) use any water supply, whether public or private;

(e) take water from any watercourse, lake, pond or other source, whether natural or artificial;

(f) remove anything from the vicinity of the fire or other emergency.

(2) (a) The person in control at a fire or other emergency may require that any available water supply be controlled from the main pipes in any way that he directs in order to give a greater supply and pressure of water.

(b) He may, if he considers it necessary for the protection of other property, cause water or other extinguishing agent to be directed against that property.

(c) No action shall lie against a fire authority, the person in control at the fire or other emergency or any person acting under his powers under this subsection.

(3) Any person who wilfully obstructs or impedes the exercise by the person in control at a fire or other emergency or by any person under his authority or by any member of the Garda Síochána of the powers conferred on that person or member by this section shall be guilty of an offence.

(4) Where damage to any property is caused by the exercise of a power conferred by this section, the damage shall, for all purposes and in particular for the purpose of any contract of insurance, be deemed to have been caused by the fire or emergency.

(5) Any clause or condition inserted in a contract of insurance purporting to exclude or having the effect of excluding the risk of damage caused by the exercise of a power conferred by this section shall be void where the risk of damage caused directly by the fire or emergency in relation to which the power is exercised would be covered by the contract.

Public water supply for fire-fighting.

29. —(1) The functions of a sanitary authority for the provision of a supply of water shall extend to the supply of water for fire-fighting purposes and the provision and maintenance of fire hydrants at such places as the fire authority requires.

(2) Where a fire authority represents to a sanitary authority that reasonable provision has not been made for a supply of water for fire-fighting purposes, the sanitary authority shall consult with the fire authority as to the measures required and shall take such measures as may be agreed.

Penalty for false alarms.

30. —Every person who knowingly gives or causes to be given a false alarm (whether by means of a street fire alarm, a telephone communication, a direct statement, a message or otherwise) to a fire brigade maintained by a fire authority shall be guilty of an offence.

Damage to fire hydrant.

31. —Any person who interferes with, damages or obstructs a fire hydrant or any apparatus for drawing water from a main for the purpose of fire-fighting otherwise than in connection with operations of a fire brigade or for any purpose authorised by the sanitary authority shall be guilty of an offence.