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25 June, 2024
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Cyprus Fire Service policy sparks concerns among lawmakers

MP Averof Neofytou emphasized the need for prompt resolution

Andreas Karamitas

The recent implementation of a new policy by the Fire Service of Cyprus regarding premises control has ignited discussions within the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Commerce, Industry, and Tourism. This policy specifically targets establishments operating without the requisite licenses and fire safety certificates, a matter of considerable concern among lawmakers.

During the deliberations, a key focus emerged on the prevalence of tourism businesses operating without the necessary certifications. Previously, these establishments relied on Fire Brigade inspections, which identified areas for improvement but did not result in the issuance of formal certificates. However, this approach has raised significant concerns regarding the safety of establishments lacking not only fire safety certificates but also essential building and planning permits.

In the course of discussions, the Fire Brigade spokesperson highlighted past ministerial directives aimed at assisting businesses in obtaining the necessary permits. Despite these efforts, the number of establishments without fire safety certificates has continued to rise over the years. It was emphasized that while the Fire Brigade conducted inspections as instructed, there exists no legal provision empowering them to issue interim fire safety certificates. Furthermore, their recommendations, though valuable, are not officially recognized as certificates.

Members of Parliament from various parties acknowledged the urgency of the situation, stressing the need to address the disorder surrounding operating licenses, particularly within the tourism sector. They called for legislative and procedural reforms to ensure the safety of both employees and customers.

Representatives from the Interior, Justice, and Tourism ministries attended the committee meeting. The Ministry of Justice, as the Competent Authority for the Fire Brigade, reaffirmed its commitment to upholding safety standards and expressed reluctance to bypass legal procedures in issuing fire safety certificates.

Despite extensive discussions, the session concluded without a definitive resolution. However, there was consensus among committee members that immediate coordination among relevant ministries is necessary to devise a comprehensive solution. The focus remains on safeguarding public safety while streamlining regulatory procedures to support the tourism industry.

On behalf of DISY, MP Averof Neophytou emphasized the need for prompt resolution and proposed a transitional period to shift responsibility for structure adequacy in fire safety issues to property designers. Edek MP Ilias Myrianthous raised concerns about the risks posed by uncertified businesses to employees and customers, calling for legislative and procedural improvements. Environmentalist MP Stavros Papadouris highlighted the Parliament's efforts to address licensing issues, urging action to ensure fire safety measures are in place pending the issuance of operating permits.

Committee chairman Kyriakos Chatzigiannis stressed the urgency of addressing bureaucratic hurdles in the tourism industry and called for inter-ministerial collaboration to find a lasting solution. He emphasized that piecemeal approaches are inadequate and urged ministries to coordinate effectively.

AKEL MP Kostas Kostas emphasized the need for a transitional period to license premises, averting potential closures due to lack of permits. Representatives from the Interior, Justice, and Tourism ministries reiterated their commitment to public safety and acknowledged the need for coordinated action.

The session concluded with a call for immediate coordination among relevant ministries to address the issue effectively. The Parliament stands ready to support legislative measures to ensure the safety and sustainability of Cyprus' tourism sector.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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