Council ensures every flat in its tower blocks are safer from fire
Every flat in all of Ellesmere Port's tower blocks has been fitted with a sprinkler ensuring residents like Neil McHugh can sleep soundly.
Work to fit the sprinklers in the borough’s high rise homes began three years ago and is now complete with each home protected from the danger of fire.
This has delighted Neil, 61, who lives with his mum Margaret in Joseph Groome Towers in Ellesmere Port. He said: “I think it is a good idea to have them in, it’s the way it should be. They are thinking of your safety and you are being looked after.
“You feel safe now and more secure because you know if there is a fire, you are covered. It is not going to be a big gush of water like you would expect with the fire engines. It is going to be like a fine mist of water, not really soaking everything. It is putting a fine mist of water on top of the fire so it is dampening it down.”
Cllr Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Growth, said: “The Grenfell Tower disaster was devastating.
“This Council is committed to ensuring that residents who live in our tower blocks feel safe in their own home, so installation of the sprinklers in the high rise Council housing began in 2015. It is important that every flat is fitted with a sprinkler because this will protect the whole community in the tower block. We are delighted that every tenant can sleep safe in the knowledge that in the event of a fire, they will be alerted by an alarm and protected by a sprinkler.”
“Fire is indiscriminate,” explained CFRS Area Manager and Protection Lead Lee Shears, “It destroys lives, homes, families, businesses and history that cannot be replaced. Every year people are needlessly killed and seriously injured in fires. Every year people are made homeless as a result of fire. Every year businesses collapse and people lose their livelihoods as a result of fire. Fire deaths (including firefighter deaths) can almost be eliminated and lives and properties can be saved with this simplest of additions. We are delighted that the Council has worked with us to ensure that every flat in Joseph Groome Towers is now fitted with sprinklers.”
Neil said: “I have been living here for nine years. We didn’t have sprinklers nine years ago, they were put in four years ago. These buildings were built in the 60s and they wouldn’t have thought about it then. Our flat was done four years ago and was one of the first ones done.
“The only issues we have had with fire: we had one on the top floor years ago, they had a chip pan fire about 10 o’clock at night. The alarms let you know. You couldn’t sleep through them. You could see all the smoke coming out of the windows.”
Since the Grenfell fire disaster in London, work to install sprinklers in every flat in the blocks increased. The pipes are covered by a box casing which is visible on the ceiling in the hallway of Neil’s flat.
Neil added: “We never notice the boxing around the pipes anymore because it is just there. Like when you have something in a room that has been there for ages, it just becomes part of the furniture. It doesn’t bother us.
“Some people didn’t want the sprinklers done but they all have had it done now. The fire at Grenfell really opens your eyes. They have put the sprinklers in for our safety.
“After the Grenfell fire happened we felt safe because we have got the sprinklers. Having sprinklers in every flat is the way it should be because it is for the safety of all the people in the flats.”
Cheshire Fire Authority provided £36,000 towards the project. The Chair of the authority, Cllr Bob Rudd, concluded: “Sprinklers are the equivalent to having a firefighter ready and waiting in every room of your home or business.
“Sprinklers suppress fire before it has a chance to take hold and spread which in turn limits the damage it causes to buildings and property. This makes the device an ideal choice for property management companies and local authority housing associations to help protect their assets from fire, but also to keep tenants and their families safe.”