‘Only matter of time before lives are lost’
Another fire in another long-time vacant building in Cork City has prompted fresh calls for a joint Garda-council approach to tackle vacancy and dereliction.
There are also warnings that it is only a matter of time before lives are lost.
It has also been established that the owners of vacant or derelict properties where fires break out are not billed for the cost of extinguishing the fire — the cost falls on the taxpayer as part of the routine funding of the fire service.
It follows the latest blaze in an old vacant office building on Cork’s south docks in November, which had been secured, emptied of anything of salvageable value, and in an area which was being patrolled by security contractors.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould, who has seen several vacant homes in his constituency damaged by suspicious fires, has now written to city council officials, calling for an urgent meeting between the local authority, gardaí and the fire service to address the issue.
“I am very concerned that a failure to secure these sites, and indeed their vacancy, is adding to the pressure of the emergency services and ultimately putting lives at risk,” he said.
“I am formally requesting that Cork City Council convene a meeting with An Garda Síochána and the fire brigade to identify potentially dangerous derelict sites and put in place an action plan to quickly secure these but also to resolve dangerous dereliction across Cork City.”
Mr Gould also pointed out that the estimated €3m owed in outstanding derelict sites levies could, if collected, be used to acquire some of these what are in many cases dangerous sites through compulsory purchase order powers, in the hope to transform them.
It comes as gardaí continue their investigation into the latest fire in a vacant property in the city, which is believed to have been started deliberately.
While in some cases, the fires have been started by people who gain unauthorised access to the properties in a bid to find shelter and keep warm, in other cases, arson is suspected.
Just after 2am on Wednesday,…