'People could be trapped in a fire': Call for false alarm 'issue' to be fixed in Rainham block

The entrance to Sunflower Court in Rainham where we all residents congregate on evacuation. 

The entrance to Sunflower Court in Rainham is the evacuation point - Credit: Archant

Neighbours in Rainham are in danger of being trapped during a fire because repeated false alarms are leading to complacency during evacuation, a man has warned.

A 60-year-old resident of Sunflower Court in the Orchard Village estate, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the alarm recently sounded five times in 48 hours and called for the issue to be fixed.

He is worried fewer people evacuate each time there is a false alarm: “The noise is deafening and disturbs everyone, even those from different blocks.

“After five false alarms in 48 hours, now when people hear the alarm hardly anyone will leave the building. 

“It is worrying. In a fire, people could be trapped thinking it’s a false alarm.”

Clarion Housing, which runs the estate, confirmed it is “aware of the issues with the fire alarm system” on the estate and has sent engineers to visit the block.

Fire Sensor

The fire sensor in the entry area from the basement car park that keeps signalling a fire in the block of flats. - Credit: Archant

Those engineers found the alarm was set off by people smoking in the communal areas, but residents removing the “equipment” from their flats has added “additional faults” that “now need to be rectified”.  

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Clarion said it will contact the resident who spoke to this newspaper and emphasised the importance of “not removing the equipment”.   

The resident said: “People stand on the street with their children waiting for the all-clear – it's awful.  

“This weekend [October 2], the alarm sounded at 4am on Sunday morning and we all stood on the street waiting for the fire brigade to give us the all-clear to go home.  

“Again, on Monday morning [October 4] the alarm went off and we all evacuated for a second time. People had to sit in their cars with their children away from the horrendous noise.  

“You will be in bed asleep and at 4am the thing goes off – it isn’t like a normal smoke detector – and the sound is unbearable and forces you out of the building.” 

Clarion’s spokesperson said it “appreciates the inconvenience caused” to the majority of residents who follow the policy of not smoking in communal areas.  

Engineers will visit residents in their flats to address faults “as quickly as possible”, it said.

This comes after residents of Orchard Village told the Recorder that electronic evacuation doors regularly malfunction, leaving people potentially stuck inside in a fire with no means of escape.