Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Fire Safety

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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341. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if his attention has been drawn to issues in relation to a school (details supplied) in regard to the need for a fire safety certificate; and if he will intervene in the matter to ensure this vital service to the local community can remain in operation in the long-term. [17405/22]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the supporting documentation required as part of the re-registration process for early years services, which, for most services, was due to take place at the end of 2019. Services were required to provide Fire Safety Certificates as part of the re-registration process. Many services have already re-registered and submitted a Fire Safety Certificate and some have re-registered subject to submitting an up-to-date Fire Safety Certificate.

In August 2019, Tusla issued guidance for registered providers of early years services on the fire and planning requirements for the re-registration process. It is important to note that these were not new regulations, but guidance on the submission of documentation for the purpose of re-registration. Registration of early years services is granted only where Tusla is satisfied that the premises, operation and location of the service pose no unmanaged risk to children. All registered services are expected to have the appropriate fire certification in place.

In an effort to assist providers in meeting the re-registration deadline, Tusla divided the process into two parts. The first part, including submission of an application form and critical supporting documentation, was completed at the end of 2019 and the deadline for the second part (submission of remaining documents) was postponed until June 2020. Due to the unprecedented situation with Covid–19, a decision was taken to further defer the deadline for submission of remaining supporting documentation to 1 November 2021. This deadline has now passed and all services should have submitted the outstanding documentation to the Tusla Registrations Office.

The suitability and safety of premises is a key concern in the assessment of quality provision for children in early years services. Section 58G of the Child Care Act, 1991 (as amended by Part 12 of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013) places an onus on the providers of early years services to ensure that they take all reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children. Under the Building Control legislation, the majority of early years settings fall into the category of purpose group that requires providers to ensure that the early years setting complies with specific provisions under fire building design and compliance regulations. Requirements of detection, containment and safe evacuation of children and staff in the event of fire must be considered. The statutory authority for the interpretation and determination of fire certification requirements for new or existing early years services is the local authority fire service department.

Tusla is the independent statutory regulator of early learning and care and school-age childcare services in Ireland. As Tusla is independent in its statutory functions, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth may not intervene in relation to particular cases.

Given the absolute priority to keep children safe in these services, I allocated funding under my Department's Annual Capital Programme in 2021 to assist services complete any outstanding fire safety works required to obtain a Fire Safety Certificate. A total of €5 million was allocated across 643 services to carry out remedial works to ensure these services will be fully compliant with fire safety standards as set out in Tulsa's registration requirements.


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