Allegations have been made that the fire alarm at Leinster House went ‘silent’ shortly after it went off, without any verification of the scene.
Allegations have also been aired that elected officials are not evacuating because they say they did not hear the fire alarm in an area indicated by the activation.
Existing questions have been raised again following a fire in January this year that engulfed South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town.
But the Houses of Oireachtas said last night that the fire alarm systems at the Leinster House complex were being maintained to manufacturer’s instructions.
The insistence came as a result of questions submitted by the Irish Independent based on internal emails that express concern over an alleged series of alarm incidents.
According to engineers, concerns have been raised about the system being activated in different locations simultaneously, as well as the resetting of the fire alarm.
When asked if the alarm system was malfunctioning, the Oireachtas said there were “various fire alarm systems in the Leinster House complex”.
These are maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and as required by fire service legislation, a spokeswoman added.
‘All maintenance work is recorded in our fire log which is available for inspection by the fire services at any time,’ she said.
An email dated December 6, 2021 from a senior member of staff, however, states: “Please note an activation of the fire alarm at 9:09 a.m. It indicates full fire red mode in [a] staff locker room.
“The alarm has been silenced, which I believe should not happen until the situation has been verified and a decision to reset the alarm has been made.
“The practice or policy of silencing fire alarms is contrary to best practice.”
Another email from October refers to “a fault in the fire alarm panel”. In August, a number of issues were raised following a fire audit.
The emails show the Superintendent of Leinster House also raised concerns and copied senior staff.
A separate message seen by the Irish Independent features another high-profile member of staff saying, “It’s just hard to figure out (how), after activation the alarm was removed before the bailiff arrived on the scene to investigate.”