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Rotunda to upgrade ‘inadequate’ emergency lighting and fire detection systems

By Catherine Reilly - 20th Mar 2023


The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin has gone to tender to address its “completely inadequate and sub-optimal” emergency lighting and fire detection systems, the Medical Independent (MI) has learned.

“The current emergency lighting system and fire detection alarm system in the hospital is completely inadequate and sub-optimal to meet statutory requirements,” according to a Rotunda business case dated August 2021, which was obtained from the HSE under Freedom of Information law.
A Rotunda spokesperson told MI that the project has recently gone to tender and will be fully funded by the HSE.

The Rotunda commissioned an independent fire safety report after a fire in the neonatal intensive care unit in 2017. The hospital has since been addressing risks and engaging with the HSE on funding to undertake the full works.

According to the business case: “The safety implications of not responding to a fire in a timely manner could result in patients being unsafely compromised or harmed and unnecessarily evacuations [sic] from the building where a horizontal compartmentation strategy could have avoided such disruption.”

It continued: “In the event of a fire in the wards where the lighting was affected the current emergency lighting system would not provide a safe passage to a place of safety.”

Furthermore, the possible delay in identifying “the precise location of an activated device due to the current radial network system may result in harm to patients and staff and greater damage to the hospital”.

Fire detection devices were found to age from new to over 25 years, noted the document. “It is recommended the asset life for such devices should not exceed 10 years. The inspection identified 273 devices over 20 years with 235 of these ionisation devices requiring certified disposal.”

The estimated overall cost for the project was €2,658,842, stated the business case.

The Rotunda’s spokesperson said all fire detection devices will be replaced as part of the project, but “they are still operationally sound and are tested quarterly”.

In regard to a reference in the business case that in the event of a fire in the wards where the lighting was affected, the current emergency lighting system would not provide a safe passage, the spokesperson said: “This will be addressed as part of the project, however, the back-up generator would start up in the event of a mains failure and this is tested every month.”

On the possible delay in identifying the precise location of an activated device due to the radial network system, the spokesperson said: “There is a fully addressable system in place and a full graphics system now to identify precise location of activation alarms.”

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