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Fire Safety Certificates

The design and construction of buildings is regulated under the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014, in order to ensure the safety of people within the built environment. For developments in county Longford fire safety certificates are issued by the Fire Authority.

Why do I need a Fire Safety Certificate?

Under the Building Control Act 1990 two main sets of regulations have been issued, the Building Regulations 1997 which sets standards for building works and the Building Control Regulations 2007 which puts procedures in place to control building works.
Longford Fire & Rescue Service processes the Fire Safety Certificates applications for the and on behalf of the Longford County Council Building Control Authority.

What is a Fire Safety Certificate?

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 1997. 

Types of Fire Safety Certificate:

  • Standard Fire Safety Certificate
  • Revised Fire Safety Certificate
  • Regularisation Certificate

 

Standard Fire Safety Certificate

  • Before you begin any work or make a material change of use, you should apply to the local building control authority for a fire safety certificate. Ideally you should not start work unless you have a fire safety certificate.
  • If you wish to begin work in the absence of a fire safety certificate you should apply for a fire safety certificate and submit a 7 Day Notice prior to commencement.

 

Revised Fire Safety Certificate

  • Article 20 B provides for a revised fire certificate (FSC) in respect of works where:
  • An application for a FSC is made before grant of planning permission, if required by the subsequent grant of such planning permission, for the purpose of ensuring that the revised design arising from the grant of planning permission complies with part B of the Building Regulations, or
  • Where significant revision is made to the design or works of a building for which a FSC has already been granted
  • An application submitted for a revised FSC must be in accordance with the requirements of Article 20B (3) of the Regulations.

  

Regularisation Certificate

  • A regularisation certificate is granted by a building control authority in respect of works on non-domestic buildings and apartments blocks which were commenced or completed without the necessary fire safety certificate (FSC). The certificate may be granted with or without conditions or refused. There is provision for an appeal to An Bord Pleanala in such cases. The appeal must be lodged within 1 month of the date of the decision on the application.
  • A period of 4 months is set down to comply with conditions which may be inserted by the building control authority in a regularisation certificate. There is no mechanism to extend. It is an offence to commence work on a building without a FSC (where required) and the regularisation cert is a chance to be in compliance with the fire safety certification regime. If the works are not carried out within the 4 month period, the certificate will not have effect.
  • 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. A solicitor can sign a statutory declaration when s/he is also a Commissioner of Oaths. However, a solicitor shall not exercise these powers in any proceedings in which he is solicitor to any of the parties or in which he has an interest.
  • An inspection of the building by an authorised Person from the Building Control Authority is required before a decision is made on the application.

   

7 Day Notice Fire Safety Certificate Application

  • Article 20A sets out the procedure for submission of a 7 day notice application to a Building Control Authority where a person intends to commence work on the construction of a building before grant of the relevant fire safety certificate (FSC).
  • 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 7 day notice application should be considered and a decision made thereon in accordance with the requirements of Article 20A (3) and 20A (4) of the regulations.
  • This notice must be accompanied by a 7 day notice statutory declaration form which declares that the works will comply with the Building Regulations and that any modifications required by the fire safety certificate will be completed within the specified time.
  • The standard fee minimum for a 7 Day Notice is €250 or €5.80 per square metre of floor, whichever is the greater. The maximum fee is €25,000. This is double the amount for a standard Fire Safety Certificate application.  The fee may vary depending on the work proposed and the fees are listed in the Fifth Schedule of the Building Control Regulations.

Which developments require a Fire Safety Certificate and which are exempted?

The following developments (other than those listed as exempt below) require a Fire Safety Certificate;

  • Works in connection with the design and construction of a new building
  • Works in connection with the material alteration of:
        - A day centre
        - building containing a flat
        - A hotel, hostel or guest building
        - An institutional building
        - A place of assembly
        - A shopping centre
  • Works in connection with the material alteration of a shop, office or industrial building where additional floor area is being provided within the existing building or where the building is being sub divided into a number of units for separate occupancy.
  • Works in connection with the extension of a building by more than 25 square metres
  • A building as regards which a material change of use takes place.

 

The following buildings are exempted from the requirement to obtain a Fire Safety Certificate:

  • Certain single storey agricultural buildings.
  • A building used as a dwelling other than a flat.
  • A single storey domestic garage.
  • A single storey building ancillary to a dwelling which is used exclusively for recreational or storage purposes or the keeping of plants, birds or animals for domestic purposes and is not used for any trade or business or for human habitation.
  • Works by a Building Control Authority in it's functional area.Works in connection with a Garda station, a courthouse, a barracks and certain government buildings.

How does the Fire Safety Certificate Process work?

An application is submitted to the Building Control Authority

  • Valid applications are date stamped, scanned and forwarded to the fire department. Where an application is incomplete and therefore not valid, the Building Control Authority may request the applicant to submit the necessary documentation to enable the application to be validated.
  • The application is examined technically for compliance with the 'Fire' part of the Building Regulations.
  • Where it is considered that additional information or modifications are required to the application, the officer examining the application may request such additional information/modification from the applicant.
  • A Fire Safety Certificate will issue to the applicant as soon as possible after all required additional information has been submitted.
  • The Building Control Authority must notify the applicant of the decision on the application within two months of the application date or within such extended period of time as may be agreed between the applicant and the Authority at any time.

What must be submitted?

A Fire Safety Certificate Application should contain: 

  1. A completed Application Form
  2. Relevant drawings (in duplicate)
  3. A fire safety report
  4. The appropriate fee

 

Application Form

  • A standard Fire Safety Certificate application will use the Fire Safety Certificate Application Form.
  • All forms needed for the different types of application and a schedule of the fees applicable are available to download on the Longford County Council website here.

 

Drawings and Fire Safety Report

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.

 

Fee for a Fire Safety Certificate

The fee which applies is dependent on the floor area of the development and in the case of a 7 day notice or regularisation higher fees apply.

The fee for a standard fire safety certificate is €2.90 per square meter floor area (for the part of the building which the Fire Safety Certificate Application relates to). The minimum fee is €125 and the maximum fee is €12500 regardless of floor area.
Read more about the Fees for Fire Safety Certificates.

Who can prepare a Fire Safety Certificate?

Usually a Fire Safety Certificate application is made by a Fire Safety Consultant, Architect or Engineer 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 and will return it to you together with your fee.

It is not Longford Fire Authority's policy to recommend individuals or companies.

Starting work on the development, Design Changes and Inspection of the Development

When Works can Start on the Development

Where a Fire Safety Certificate is required in respect of works or a building then a person shall not carry out the works until a Fire Safety Certificate has been issued for the works.

 

What to do about changes in the design 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 call into question the validity of the Fire Safety Certificate as it applies to the development. 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 this Department regarding any changes. 

 

Inspection and certification of the building when it is finished

The Fire Authority does not inspect and certify the building when it is finished. You should employ your fire safety consultant to oversee the fire related issues of the works. When the works are finished, you should request a certificate of compliance from your consultant. This should certify that your building has been constructed in accordance with the Fire Safety Certificate and the Building Regulations.