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Five hospitals deemed to be at ‘greatest risk of fire’ in HSE cladding systems evaluation

In 2017, the HSE formed an External Cladding Systems Evaluation Expert Group to develop a methodology to be followed in assessing cladding systems in healthcare buildings.

The methodology has been completed and the HSE has now moved on from the evaluation phase to commence the investigation and inspection of external cladding systems.

The evaluation, investigation and inspection has identified that greatest risk exists in buildings over six floors or 18 metres in height, and all other residential buildings.

There are five HSE healthcare buildings in the first category: Cork University Hospital; Galway University Hospital; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda; University Hospital Limerick; and Sligo University Hospital.

A HSE spokesperson told MI that the five hospitals are being inspected at present.

“Safety file documentation and installation drawings are being evaluated, with some systems being opened-up as necessary for inspection,” according to the spokesperson.

“The opening-up requires a cladding system specialist to open-up the cladding system in designated areas and reconstruct, as all cladding systems are a specialist installation. Height access is also required by a specialist company to allow the inspection team to view the opened system.”

The inspection team consists of a fire safety consultant; system specialist; architect; and regional/national fire officer, HSE Estates.

“Investigations and inspections have also commenced at a sample of other healthcare residential buildings.

“The focus at this time is on identifying buildings which may have issues based on the risk assessment methodology,” the spokesperson added. “Identifying where liability lies and the costs associated with any remedial works required will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”

The spokesperson also confirmed that no reportable fire incidents have been experienced in HSE buildings in the last 12 months.

The Grenfell Tower fire, which occurred on 14 June 2017 and caused 72 fatalities, is thought to have been accelerated by the building’s exterior cladding, which is of a common type in widespread use.

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