Tuesday, 15 January 2019
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Office of Public Works Projects
288. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if cell windows fitted in courthouses and Garda stations are fully compliant with standards relative to that product; if an engineer was contracted to report on the standard and compliance of cell windows already fitted; if so, if that report is available; if the supplier or suppliers of cell windows have been issued with specifications for this product by the OPW; if so, if they met the required specifications; if the product was tested by the OPW or the supplier; if cell windows that were in place have now been removed and replaced by this new product; if cell windows in newly constructed or refurbished stations have been checked recently for damage or defects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1786/19]
From the 1970s until 2016 there was only one supplier of the cell windows. This original supplier conformed with a standard set by OPW, Eolas/NSAI in 1987, now updated to comply with EN14019. A second supplier entered the market in 2016 and has a cell window that also complies with EN14019, and in addition, has been tested by a third party.
A due diligence review by a structural engineer firm confirmed that the cell windows “which are currently being produced by both approved suppliers are fit for purpose”. The report is commercially sensitive.
Both window suppliers provided the data on the three elements that make up the cell window, namely, the glass block, concrete, and a protective laminate. The performance of the window relies upon the combined interaction of all three elements working together. It is this combined performance that makes a cell window comply with EN14019. Both approved cell window suppliers have individual elements (glass block, concrete, laminate) that vary when compared with each other. However, when the three elements are combined together they comply with EN14019. The selection of which approved cell window supplier, for a particular project, is the perogative of the main building contractor. The main contractor may choose a supplier based on the number of issues including cost of schedule of delivery, site installation program, etc.
If any defects are noted by the contractor or the design team during the building inspections or later during the defects liability period post completion, they are brought to the attention of the relevant suppliers installation team for correction.
The OPW have been undertaking a general detention area upgrade in Garda stations over the last number of years. The aim of this programme is to meet new standards of prisoner care including heating, ventilation, cell doors and ablution facilities. In some cases this upgrade leads to the renewal of old cell windows. It should be noted that many of the Garda stations involved in the detention area upgrade are of a considerable age dating back to the nineteenth century.