Fire alarms replaced with waking watch

Fire alarms replaced with waking watch

AFTER THE fire alarm system in the Albion Works development in Ancoats was deemed ‘unfit for purpose’, the management company replaced them with a waking watch, leaving residents ‘terrified’.

Manchester Evening News reported on the concerns from the residents of the Albion Works development, who have seen the fire alarm system ‘deemed unfit for purpose in the wake of new guidelines’, and replaced by the management company by ‘wardens’ patrolling the building ‘with air horns’. As a consequence, the residents stated they ‘no longer feel safe’, and are ‘terrified’ at the concerns for their safety.

The residents were told in December that the waking watch, comprising five men patrolling the blocks, would ‘alert them with air horns if a fire broke out’, and flatowners were also told by building management company RMG that ‘they must foot the bill for the new measure’. Residents added that only two wardens have been seen undertaking the patrols, while others claim the wardens ‘aren’t doing their job properly and play music loudly on their phones’.

Resident Natasha Johansson said that the residents were also concerned not only for their safety, but also the ‘escalating cost’ of the waking watch, and added: ‘I can’t put into words how terrified we all are. Not only do we feel unsafe, the costs could go on and on. We’ve asked them what’s going to happen next and they’ve said they don’t know. Yet we’re liable for the costs. People are going crazy with worry over this.

‘What’s most scary is that this is their solution to the fire and they’re asking us to write a blank cheque. The fire alarm system has been a cause for concern for some time. It’s our safety and our lives at risk.’

In response, RMG said it had implemented the waking watch ‘in line with’ advice from the fire and rescue services, surveyors and independent fire engineers, adding that the development had previously utilised a stay put evacuation policy that had been changed due to issues with cladding. A spokesperson stated that ‘our work with the fire service over the recent months has been to ensure the safety of residents is priority.

‘Following checks carried out in conjunction with the fire service, although the alarm can be heard, there was a concern it could not be heard to the highest level of the requirements and therefore to maintain the safety it was instructed for the alarm to be extended further inside of the apartments’. The company also added that leaseholders have covenants in their leases outlining obligations towards maintenance and repair of the building.

The spokesperson pointed out that this ‘includes the cost of facilities such as the fire alarm and complying with statutory requirements. We totally appreciate the concerns of the residents regards the cost whilst our priority is to ensuring their safety based on the advice we receive’. A contractor had been working on a new specification for the fire alarm, the company noted.

Justin Herbert, RMG’s operations director, stated: ‘We recognise this is a difficult time for the residents and we will continue to keep them fully informed on the work being carried out both in the short and long term to ensure the building is safe.’