Fire extinguishers removed from housing association flats

Fire extinguishers
Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers have been removed from 58 blocks of flats in the district following new fire safety measures and advice.

Some of the 300 people who live in housing association properties across the Harborough area have contacted the Mail to raise concerns.

They say they can’t believe the ruling has been made.

It comes three weeks after a fire extinguisher was used to put out a blaze at a woman’s flat at the Northbank complex in Coventry Road, Market Harborough. Another Northbank resident, who did not want to be named, said the hand-delivered letters from Seven Locks Housing Association informing residents about the changes were posted a day after the fire.

She said a tenant saw smoke coming from the woman’s flat on April 9 and, with a repairman from Jeakins Weir, they managed to get into the flat and put out the flames using one of the communal fire extinguishers.

The resident said: “This highlighted the importance of having extinguishers.

“She had not heard the fire alarm going off. The quick actions of the neighbour and the extinguisher being there, saved her life.”

Seven Locks Housing Association bought Harborough District Council’s 2,100 former council homes and sheltered accommodation sites for £35million seven years ago.

The association runs 58 blocks of flats – some of which are small sites with only a few flats while others have dozens.

A total of 293 people live in the flats.

In the letter, the association’s tenancy services manager Nicola Topping said the decision came after “an in depth fire risk assessment”.

She also explained that the service charge of 39p a week which is levied for the maintenance and upkeep of the fire extinguishers was being waived.

“I would rather pay the 39p and have peace of mind,” said the Northbank resident.

Fire risk notices have been put up in place of the extinguishers.

A Seven Locks Housing spokesman said: “Health and safety is a priority for us.

“We have recently completed an independent review of fire safety measures at our 58 blocks of flats with common areas to ensure they meet the latest guidelines.

“Once we have made any required improvements, such as upgrading our fire prevention equipment and fire doors, fire extinguishers in common areas have been removed.

“Current guidance on fire safety advises that, where these measures have been implemented, residents should not attempt to tackle a fire in communal areas but to raise the alarm with the fire service and follow their advice.

“Residents are able to maintain their own fire blankets and other equipment within their own homes if they wish.

“If any resident has a concern about what to do in the case of fire they can contact us for further advice.”