Corpo fire hazard left 23 hospitalised
``We're lucky to be alive'' was how one resident of Dublin's York Street summed up her thoughts after a fire at her flat complex left 23 people suffering from smoke inhalation on Thursday night.
This is the third fire in the complex in recent years, yet Dublin Corporation, which is responsible for the upkeep of the complex, has failed to heed calls for an adequate fire escape to be built into the flats.
Rita Gray lives on the top floor with her son. ``I opened my door in an attempt to alert my neighbours,'' she explains. ``I couldn't move with the smoke. I was petrified. The fire escape is useless. The ladder to the roof is tied up. I couldn't even get to the ladder - we need a proper fire escape on the landings.''
Having visited the residents, Dublin South East Sinn Féin representative Daithí Doolan was certain of where the responsibility for the fire lay.
``Dublin Corporation has a moral and legal obligation to their tenants. These people have a right to be housed in safety,'' he said. ``This community sees millions of pounds being spent on private apartments, yet the fire regulations in York Street don't meet EU regulations and are in fact a hundred years out of date. The community was lucky that no one was seriously injured, but the safety of people's lives should not be based on luck.''
Frank Lamb, Area Manager for Dublin Corporation, gave a commitment this week that the planned refurbishment for York Street flats will start early in 2001. Doolan has welcomed this commitment, but said that the move was long overdue.
``I will be working with both the Corporation and residents to ensure it happens sooner rather than later,'' he said.