Council denies fire alarms weren't heard in tower during flat blaze
- Credit: Jasper King
A council has denied claims that fire alarms were not heard in a block of flats during a blaze.
Neighbours spoke about the horror of finding a fire had broken out in their block of flats after a suspected arson attack.
A man has since been arrested on suspicion of arson after flats had to be evacuated in Lowestoft.
East Suffolk Council, which manages the tower block, said fire alarms were heard at the bottom of the tower block but not at the top.
A spokesman for the council said: “The fire at St Peters Court was contained and limited to the ground floor storage area, with some minor smoke damage to, at most, two further units.
The established approach, agreed with Suffolk Fire and Rescue, is that alarms will only be sounded to alert residents in the immediate vicinity of the fire and this system worked correctly.
“Given the fire was on the ground floor, alarms will not be sounded on higher floors where there are no likely impacts, and tenants are advised to remain in their flats unless they see or smell fire, or are asked to leave by the fire service.
“In such a situation the concern would be that tenants on higher floors would head towards the danger and impede the fire service as they enter the building to extinguish the fire and check for any further spread.
"Safety is our primary focus and St Peters Court has benefited from extensive fire safety improvements in the last 18 months including upgrades to the alarm system, the installation of a full-building sprinkler system, new one-hour fire doors for each flat as well as comprehensive assessments of each flat's integrity.
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"We will conduct a review, however all our systems were checked following the incident and found to be in full working order. Meanwhile, council staff remained on site all night to offer reassurance.
“We would like to thank residents for their co-operation and also extend our gratitude to Suffolk Fire and Rescue who dealt quickly and efficiently with this incident."
The fire service received a call shortly before 9.45pm and were at the scene until 1.06am.
A total of 30 flats had to be evacuated and no-one is understood to be injured.