Cautious welcome to pledge to consider fire doors for disabled
Sinn Féin Social Affairs spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has given a cautious welcome to a promise from the Government to consider installing fire doors in houses with lifts to facilitate disabled people as part of a review of fire regulations. But Deputy Crowe went on to demand clarification as to when an answer would be forthcoming from the review and pointed out the existing dangers for one of his constituents, before pledging to follow up on the matter with the Minister at the earliest opportunity.
The Dublin South-West TD said: "I welcome the commitment given by the Government that this dangerous anomaly for people with special needs is going to make up part of the next review of fire regulations, but I am concerned that there seems to be a lack of clarity as to when this will take place. Considering the importance of the issue it needs to be carried out sooner rather than later. A standardised system for dealing with this is sorely lacking among local authorities and I am seeking to have such a system introduced.
"At present, fire doors are not installed as an added safety measure in local authority dwellings in which lifts were installed to facilitate people with severe mobility impairments. This was highlighted to me recently when a constituent in whose home a lift was installed because of difficulties he had with mobility recently asked me what he should do in the event of a fire. He was told not to take the lift because he was warned that the electricity supply would probably be interrupted in the event of a fire. There are no fire doors beside the lift in that man's house, so he would literally be trapped awaiting the arrival of the fire services. If a fire door was installed, he would at least have some time to escape a fire.
"When I raised this issue with the Minister he seemed to evade the important issue at hand, pointing out that fire doors are heavy and can be difficult to open. But there are fire doors designed specifically for people with disabilities and frankly, this is not particularly relevant to the fact that thousands of people with impaired mobility are at risk until fire doors are installed. I will be following up with the Minister to try and ensure the promised review is carried out as quickly as possible."
Note to editors: For further detail, see Dáil Transcript for 4th October, 2006. Question 113 to the Minister for Environment and Local Government.