I’m angry. I’m raging. It takes a lot to get me riled up these days, but I’m seething. I apologise if this isn’t as clear as my normal writing, I just wanted to get this out of my mind an into the world – because I feel it’s important.
So, a bit of a background – we own and live in a flat. The building our flat is in owned and managed by Greenfields Community Housing. Within our building there are a mixture of people who own their flat, Greenfields tenants, and private tenants. The communal areas, are pretty basic, but as you’d expect – they have emergency lighting and smoke detectors to keep us safe in an emergency.
Well – we did.
Today we got a letter from Greenfields to discuss the ‘Fire Policy’
“If you are in your flat and a fire breaks out in your communal area or a neighbouring flat, then you should stay put. The building is designed to contain a fire in the area where it starts. You should only leave if smoke or heat affects your flat or if you are told to evacuate by the Fire & Rescue Service. Our safety work includes carrying out Fire Risk Assessment in its flat blocks at least once every five years. The results of recent assessments have highlighted that smoke alarms are not required in communal areas and do not increase your safety. As a result, we will shortly begin removing all battery-operated and hard-wired smoke detectors in communal areas. “
They are removing the smoke detectors from our building.
It’s actually worse than that.
They’ve actually removed them.
I honestly can’t fathom WHY you’d remove something that will keep us all safe. The thing is, the smoke detectors were put in because this building caught fire. One of the flats on the top floor had a wiring problem, and a fire broke out in the middle of the night. The Greenfields tenant had disabled their smoke alarm in their flat, and a fire started. They were away at the time. Without the smoke detector in their flat, and without them in the hallway, the fire had taken hold before anyone noticed. It was the sound of the windows exploding outwards that woke Vicki so she could raise the alarm.
The fire had spread to the roof, the building had to be abandoned and everyone moved out for over 9 months to repair the damage the fire caused.
When everyone was allowed back, the smoke detectors had been installed.
Now, they are gone.
The problem is, they are putting the onus on residents to have fully working smoke alarms. What if they don’t? No one has come and checked we have one (obviously, we do). Who knows what our neighbours have, or don’t have? Surely leaving the hard-wired smoke detectors in the communal area add a bit of redundancy? If someone’s alarm has failed (or been disabled), at least there is a backup?
Greenfields Community Housing thinks it’s fine without.
In the wake of Grenfell, shouldn’t we be installing whatever precautions possible? Maintaining existing systems to keep residents safe?
Greenfields Community Housing doesn’t think so.
No one came to see us to check we have a working smoke alarm, they just assumed we did. I don’t want to have the safety of my home compromised because one of my neighbours has removed a battery from a smoke alarm, or might not even have one. I want Greenfields to do everything possible to ensure our safety.
I honestly can’t believe they’ve actually come and removed our fire alarm. No warning, no discussion. It’s just gone. There aren’t even any illuminated fire exit signs – there’s literally nothing helpful for the event of an emergency.
I feel like it’s cost-cutting. It’s one less thing to maintain, one less company to pay to test that they are working. Just rip them out, and let us know after. They are pretty useless at the best of times, but this is just disgusting. It’s not like we had an ageing system that was in need of replacement and there wasn’t the budget available to replace it. No – they’ve just pulled it because they ‘won’t increase our safety’. Let that just sink in – smoke detectors won’t increase our safety. Idiots.
I hoped that putting this all down would make me calm – but no..