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Harold Hill residents want action after tower block that caught fire has no fire alarms in hallways or stairwells

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:07 02 May 2018

From left to right are: (Back row) James Smith, 2, Laura Smith, 36, Craig Rutherford, 36, Nailah St Louis, 6, Shonel St Louis, 34, Gulsah Chambers, 34, Samantha Rensch, 29, Susan Milton, and Keith Axten 56. At the front is Linsey Dawes, 35, Freya Dawes, 9, Callum Dawes, 7, and Stanley Dawes, 2, in the pram. The residents of Dryden Towers are concerned about the lack of fire alarms outside of their flats.

From left to right are: (Back row) James Smith, 2, Laura Smith, 36, Craig Rutherford, 36, Nailah St Louis, 6, Shonel St Louis, 34, Gulsah Chambers, 34, Samantha Rensch, 29, Susan Milton, and Keith Axten 56. At the front is Linsey Dawes, 35, Freya Dawes, 9, Callum Dawes, 7, and Stanley Dawes, 2, in the pram. The residents of Dryden Towers are concerned about the lack of fire alarms outside of their flats.

Archant

Residents of a Harold Hill tower block that caught fire want smoke alarms installed because they don’t feel safe in their homes.

Gulsah Chambers, 34, with her children Aysha Chambers, 2, (left) and Lara Chambers, 4, (right).Gulsah Chambers, 34, with her children Aysha Chambers, 2, (left) and Lara Chambers, 4, (right).

Residents of a Harold Hill tower block that caught fire want smoke alarms installed because they don’t feel safe in their homes.

It has come to light that there are no smoke alarms or heat detectors outside of residents’ homes in two blocks of houses next door to each other.

Firefighters were called to a blaze in Dryden House, Heaton Avenue on Sunday, April 29, and now residents want action from the council.

There was a fire in the flats’ bin room and clouds of smoke could be seen coming from the rubbish chute.

Residents have said that although fire services were quick to the scene more could have been done to alert them of the fire, and said that they want fire alarms, heat detectors or even more information from the council about how to deal with a fire.

They said that they don’t want the same thing to happen to them as what happened in the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.

The mum-of-three said that she doesn't feel safe in her home.The mum-of-three said that she doesn't feel safe in her home.

Havering Council has said that fire safety processes are in place in the block of flats, including seals around the bin chute, fire doors and air vents - which prevented smoke damage to other floors.

The council said that it is compliant with all fire safety regulations for Dryden Towers, and that under current regulations, fire alarms and heat detectors are not required in public areas.

The spokeswoman said the council “proactively” manages all communal areas in tower blocks to ensure they remain safe, and that it has also conducted a fire safety awareness campaign with the London Fire Brigade.

Clouds of smoke could be seen coming from the rubbish chute of Dryden Towers.Clouds of smoke could be seen coming from the rubbish chute of Dryden Towers.

Craig Rutherford, 36, lives on the 12th floor of Dryden House and said that he rang 999 after he saw the smoke on Sunday afternoon.

He said that he grabbed his children from his flat and ran out of the building because he didn’t trust the block’s current fire safety measures.

“I just wanted to be out of the flat, I opened the door and saw all of the smoke and thought the worst so just wanted to get my children to safety,” he told the Recorder.

Gulsah Chambers wants smoke alarms fitted in the stairwells of Dryden towers.Gulsah Chambers wants smoke alarms fitted in the stairwells of Dryden towers.

Fire alarms, heat detectors, fire awareness days, regular drills and more information on what to do in the event of a fire is what residents are calling for.

Mum-of-three, Gulsah Chambers, 34, lives on the fifth floor and said: “Imagine if it had happened in the middle of the night.

“How would any of us known that there was a fire in the building?

Firefighters were called to a blaze in Harold Hill yesterday afternoon. Photo: Ricky HollandsFirefighters were called to a blaze in Harold Hill yesterday afternoon. Photo: Ricky Hollands

“We need fire alarms, or heat detectors or just something to make us feel more safe.

“I don’t feel safe living in my home.

“Why has it taken a fire for anything to have been done?”

Firefighters were called to a blaze in Harold Hill yesterday afternoon. Photo: Ricky HollandsFirefighters were called to a blaze in Harold Hill yesterday afternoon. Photo: Ricky Hollands

Keith Axten, 56, whose daughter Bobbie lives in a flat in Kipling Tower – only a couple of hundred metres away from where the fire was – said that he thinks it will take something like the Grenfell disaster to happen before any action is taken by the council.

He said: “I don’t like my daughter and grand-daughter living in the flat.

“I want to see glass fire alarms and fire extinguishers on every floor.

“It is a disaster waiting to happen.

“Do people have to die before something is done by the council?”

Susan Milton, who lives on the sixth floor of Dryden House said that she thinks the council is focussing on the wrong things.

She said that the council asked her to remove her doormat because in the event of a fire it could be dangerous.

“I think that they are focussing on completely the wrong thing.

“They need to have fire alarms or sprinklers in the building, I don’t understand how having a doormat is a safety issue. I’ve moved it back inside of my door, is that really going to make a difference.”

Samantha Rensch, 29, agreed with other residents and wants to see the council take action to make them feel safer.

She said: “No-one has been to check today.

“My child was petrified yesterday.

“I had to lay with her last night until she went to sleep she was so scared.

“I’m so grateful that it wasn’t at night otherwise I don’t know what could have happened.

“Fortunately no-one was hurt but it could have been so much worse.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The fire at Dryden Towers in Harold Hill took place in the bin area on the first floor.

“It was contained by safety processes, including seals around the bin chute, fire doors and air vents which prevented smoke damage to the floors. London Fire Brigade attended and we are currently working with them to find out the cause.

“We take fire safety very seriously in Havering and we are compliant with all fire safety regulations for Dryden Towers, and all other high rise buildings in the borough.

“Dryden Towers has an up-to-date fire risk assessment (July 2017) and this will be reviewed in line with Havering Council’s Fire Risk Strategy. Every individual dwelling in Dryden Tower also has a smoke and heat detector.

“Under the current regulations, fire alarms and heat detectors are not required in public areas in tower blocks. The Council proactively manages all communal areas including high rise residential buildings to ensure they remain safe. The Council has also conducted a fire safety awareness campaign in conjunction with London Fire Brigade.”

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