Resident had to raise alarm over fire in Sheffield flats by riding up and down in lift and shouting

A resident says he had to raise the alarm about a fire in his block of flats by riding up and down in the lift and shouting.

Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 6:29 am

Last month, at least five fire engines rushed to the Newfield building on Callow Drive in Gleadless after a wheelie bin was deliberately set alight at the bottom of a main staircase.

The staircase was left blackened and scorched by the blaze at 7.30am on November 24, which was quickly extinguished by fire crews. Smoke spread up to the 11th floor of the building and a clean-up operation was mounted to clear away the damage.

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Residents are concerned about how there are no communal fire alarms or smoke detectors, but the council says the building is within compliance.

But residents have raised concerns about fire safety in the Gleadless block after the incident highlighted how there are no communal fire alarms or smoke detectors in the building in case of an emergency.

In fact, the tenant who discovered the fire had to raise the alarm by riding up and down in the block’s lift and shouting to his neighbours.

Sheffield City Council said individual flats are fitted with smoke detectors and that the “required fire protection measures” were in place for the building, which has a “stay put” policy for fires.

Flats did not have to be evacuated in the incident, and no one was injured.

A resident at the Newfield building on Callow Drive said they had to raise alarm to a fire by shouting it from a lift.

The resident, who asked not to be named, said: “There’s no fire alarm to pull. When I saw the fire I had to do it myself by shouting from the lift.

“There’s no CCTV in here either, so they’ve no chance of catching whoever did it. And we’ve had other fires – someone set fire to the skip outside the building in May. We’re sick of it.

“I just don’t think it’s good enough.”

Many of Newfield’s residents live in social housing or rent their flats from the council.

The council says the fact the fire did not spread to flats or outside the corridor shows the fire safety measures are effective.

It comes after the building was fitted with a new magnetized door in mid-2020 to keep out anti-social behaviour.

Residents told The Star they still felt incidents will not be curbed until CCTV is installed.

Janet Sharpe, director of housing and neighbourhood services said: “Skips were a temporary Covid-19 measure and we are looking at whether we should keep them or not. We are also investigating whether planned CCTV work at these blocks can be brought forward.

"I appreciate that residents may have been concerned but I can assure them that the required fire protection measures are in place.

“There are regular inspections of the blocks and we are advised smoke from this fire did not spread, indicating that the fire spread precaution measures in place worked on the block.

“Regulations do not require a communal alarm to be fitted. Officers will be happy to provide further assurances if needed.”

The council said anyone with concerns about fire safety can email [email protected] with any questions or for more information.

A ‘stay put’ policy is an evacuation strategy where residents are instructed to stay in their homes in the event of a fire, with the building’s concrete, fire doors and fire compartmentation expected to contain the fire before it can spread until fire crews arrive.

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