12:57 Monday 02 December 2013

New fire safety doors 'trap' elderly in home

Written byHELEN KREFT

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AN elderly tenant of a sheltered housing complex became trapped in their room thanks to a heavy door installed as part of a new FIRE SAFETY system.

Elizabeth Court, in Brough Road, Winshill, is currently undergoing a multi million pound facelift to include a variety of safety features to help elderly residents live independently.

However, some have claimed of being trapped in their room during a fire evacuation, while others, some in their 90s, said they were expected to get on a step ladder to change their own lightbulbs.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We were called to an emergency meeting to say they were going to evacuate the rooms for testing.

“During one evacuation, one resident couldn’t get out of the door because it was too heavy.

“Later on, a light bulb went off in one of the resident’s rooms. In the tenancy agreement it states that a tenant has to replace their own bulbs but some of these people are in their 90s – how would they manage getting on a step ladder?

“They said they would send a handyman out but that would take two days. In the meantime they are walking around in darkness.”

A spokesman for Trent & Dove said: “The fire safety system we have in operation at Elizabeth Court is widely used by sheltered housing complexes due to the limited mobility of some tenants. Unlike some fire alarm systems which urge people to evacuate a building, the ‘stay put’ system in use at Elizabeth court, requires tenants to remain in their apartment until help arrives.

“All apartment front doors are ‘Fire Doors’ which comply to strict health and safety regulations. These are heavier than normal doors due to their fire retardant properties.

“We acknowledge that testing of the new system has taken longer than anticipated and appreciate tenants’ patience. All residents at Elizabeth Court have been briefed on fire procedures.

“While our tenancy agreement states that light bulbs are the responsibility of tenants, we have, at our own expense, used an electrical contractor to ensure that a light fitting, owned and installed by a tenant, was safe to use.

“Improvements are ongoing and look forward to completing renovation work in 2014.”

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