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Fire Safety

Fire Safety Certificates

A Fire Safety Certificate is a certificate issued by the Building Control Authority which states that the works or building to which the application relates will, if constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications submitted, comply with the requirements of Part B of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. A Fire Safety Certificate may be granted with or without conditions, or it may be refused.

With the exception of houses and certain agricultural buildings, a Fire Safety Certificate is generally required for all new buildings, including apartments and flats. A certificate is also required for material changes of use and certain alterations and extensions to buildings. If a person intends to commence works prior to a Fire Safety Certificate being granted, a 7 day notice must be lodged with the building control authority. Otherwise, a Fire Safety Certificate is required prior to commencement of the works.

If you build without a Fire Safety Certificate, you will leave yourself open to prosecution under building control legislation. If you decide at some later date to sell your premises the buyer's solicitor will, in all likelihood, look for a copy of the Fire Safety Certificate for the building. If you are unable to produce a Fire Safety Certificate you may find it difficult to sell. If you build or extend a public house /licensed premises without a Fire Safety Certificate you will even run into difficulties obtaining or renewing a license.

The statutory period allowed to a building control authority to process a Fire Safety Certificate application is two months, or within such extended period of time as may be agreed between the applicant and the Authority at any time. However, all the information must be made available to the authority, so that they have sufficient information to make a decision, before this statutory period starts. If the application documentation is incomplete, this will delay the decision on the application. Where it is considered that additional information or modifications are required to the application, the officer examining the application may request this from the applicant. A decision of the building control authority can be appealed to An Bórd Pleanála within one month of the decision. Details of the appeal process and fee are sent out with each decision.

The Building Control Regulations has the effect of creating 3 separate certificates when dealing with fire safety:

Fire Safety Certificate - This is required where the applicant proposes a new building, a new building extension, or certain modifications to an existing building.

Revised Fire Safety Certificate - This is required to update the content of a previously granted fire safety certificate, due to proposed or required changes to the building design.

Regularisation Certificate - This is required where building works requiring a Fire Safety Certificate were commenced or completed post 1st June 1992 without an associated Fire Safety Certificate application. Any application for a Regularisation Certificate must be accompanied with a Statutory Declaration. This declaration states that the works comply with part B of the Building Regulations. It also requires the applicant to agree to an inspection by the Building Control Authority and to carry out any additional works required by the Authority.


7-Day Notice

The submission of a Fire Safety Certificate application can be accompanied by a 7 day notice. This is used where a person intends to commence building works before grant of the relevant Fire Safety Certificate. The Notice must be submitted not less than 7 days in advance of commencement of work and must be in accordance with the requirements of Article 20A (2) of the Regulations. A Commencement Notice will not be required in respect of buildings where a 7 Day notice has been submitted to the building control authority. The 7 Day notice must be accompanied by a valid Fire Safety Certificate application and a statutory declaration in respect of the work proposed.

The contents of a Fire Safety Certificate application

A Fire Safety Certificate Application should contain a completed application form, relevant drawings (in duplicate), a fire safety report and the appropriate fee. The application is required to demonstrate that the development complies with Part B of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. One way to achieve this is to systematically address each relevant clause of the particular Codes and Guidance documents which are being used in the fire safety design of the building. Specific requirements are detailed in the accompanying notes with the application form.

Usually a Fire Safety Certificate application is made by a Fire Safety Consultant, Engineer or Architect who is familiar with the Building Regulations and the procedure for applying for a Fire Safety Certificate. The content of the application needs to be comprehensive in nature. A person preparing a Fire Safety Certificate should have a sound knowledge of building construction and fire safety design. If the application submitted is lacking in information or drawings, then the local authority will consider it invalid.

If the design is changed after a Fire Safety Certificate has been granted

A Fire Safety Certificate is granted based on the design and information submitted. Deviations at construction stage from the documentation submitted might result in the Fire Safety Certificate being invalid for the completed building. It is accepted that changes can occur as a building project proceeds. These changes may be insignificant from a fire safety point of view or they may be such that a new Fire Safety Certificate Application is required. It is recommended that you contact the Fire Department regarding any changes. Where significant revision is made to the design or works of a building or an extension of, a material alteration to or a material change of use of a building in respect of which a Fire Safety Certificate has been granted by a building control authority a revised Fire Safety Certificate may be required.

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