Rechnungshof

Blocked escape routes, defect fire doors

13.09.2019 - Fire safety in the Vienna Hofburg Palace still has shortcomings

Brandschutz Hofburg - Copyright: istock.com/Choness

Today the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) published four follow-up audits. Of the 14 assessed recommendations published in the ACA’s previous report on “Fire Safety in Public Buildings”, the Burghauptmannschaft as the builder-owner of the Hofburg Palace implemented five fully, six partially and three not at all. The Burghauptmannschaft now has its own fire safety coordinator and the visitors are constantly informed about fire safety in the Hofburg Palace. 

55 deficiencies – board inspections dated back up to eight years

The inspections carried out in line with the technical regulations concerning preventive fire safety revealed 55 shortcomings. Among others, inspection of fire extinguishers and a fire alarm system were lacking, as were markings and keys for the fire brigade; fire doors were defect or not functional, escape routes and access routes were blocked. Although the Burghauptmannschaft recorded the object monitoring (board inspections), it failed to carry out such monitoring annually, nor did it use the form provided therefor. The board inspections of the Vienna Hofburg Palace dated back up to eight years.

In light of the considerable number of detected shortcomings, it was questionable for the ACA whether the Burghauptmannschaft had applied due diligence and sensitivity as regards the handling of matters related to fire safety in the area of the Vienna Hofburg Palace. The ACA pointed to the threats for employees and visitors resulting therefrom as well as to the liability risks for the Burghauptmannschaft.

The ACA’s recommendations: remedy the shortcomings, implement constructional measures

In order to ensure the proper condition of the building and in the spirit of safeguarding fire safety in the Vienna Hofburg Palace, the Burghauptmannschaft should actively pursue the addressing of shortcomings by the users (e.g. by setting deadlines and requesting a written notification of the rectification). If they fail to intervene, appropriate measures would have to be taken to indemnify the Burghauptmannschaft (e.g. substitute performances at the Burghauptmannschaft’s expense). The ACA recommends to ensure sufficient object monitoring in the Vienna Hofburg Palace. Furthermore, the necessary constructional measures should be set quickly in order to fully implement the fire safety concept.

Shortcomings have been detected again with regard to a procurement procedure, namely concerning documentation. Furthermore, procurement controlling was not sufficient. The Burghauptmannschaft failed to implement the recommendation of the ACA to evaluate whether a central entity the management of procurement procedures would be more efficient and effective.

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Report: Fire Safety in the Vienna Hofburg Palace – Follow-up Audit

In October and November 2018, the Austrian Court of Audit carried out an audit at the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich to assess the state of implementation of selected recommenda-tions issued in the previous report “Fire Safety in Public Buildings” (Federation 2016/7).
Of 14 assessed recommendations, the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich implemented five fully, six partially and three not at all.

In accordance with the recommendations, the Burghauptmannschaft assumed the fire safety coordination in the Hofburg Palace mainly internally and planned to deploy its own fire safety coordinator. Furthermore, it constantly informed the visitors of the Hofburg Palace on fire safe-ty and attuned the most important aspects of the fire safety regulation for the building complex of the Hofburg Palace with its users. Since 2016, the Burghauptmannschaft has organized 16 fire protection days per year, and in 2017 it created a so-called user board, which was held every six to eight weeks.

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Three further follow-up audits

As regards the follow-up on the report “University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy”, the central recommendation to include the schools for agricultural and forestry sciences in a comprehensive reform of the Austrian school system remained to be implemented. Of twelve recommendations, the University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy implemented three fully and nine at least partially. Of seven recommendations, the competent Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism implemented only one fully, two partially and four not at all. The Burgtheater implemented the majority of the recommendations and reduced the cash payments by an average of about 89 per cent from EUR 2.16 million per year to about EUR 240,000. The Wiener Linien (Vienna’s public transport operator) implemented all recommendations fully or at least partially.

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Report: University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy; Follow-up Audit

In August 2018, the ACA carried out a follow-up audit at the University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy and at the Federal Ministry for Sustainability and Tourism to assess the level of implementation of its recommendations issued in the preceding report “University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy” (Federation 2016/2).

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Report: Burgtheater GmbH; Follow-up Audit

In November and December 2018, the ACA carried out a follow-up audit at the Burgtheater GmbH and the Bundestheater–Holding GmbH to assess the level of implementation of selected recommendations of its preceding report “Burgtheater GmbH” (Federation 2016/6).

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Report: WIENER LINIEN GmbH & Co KG; Procurement of Buses and Internal Control System - Follow-up Audit

In August and September 2018, the ACA carried out a follow-up audit at the WIENER LINIEN GmbH & Co KG to assess the implementation of selected recommendations of its preceding report “WIENER LINIEN GmbH & Co KG; Procurement of Buses and Internal Control System” (Vienna 2016/3).

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