Pensioners call for better fire safety measures as elderly woman is trapped in her burning home

Pensioners call for better fire safety measures as elderly woman is trapped in her burning home

SAFETY ISSUE: Residents of Tennyson Gardens in Darlington are concerned over a lack of fire exit at their properties especially after a fire at number niine on the street. The residents are Jayne Johnson, Elizabeth Longstaff, Josephine O'Mahony, Lill

SAFETY ISSUE: Residents of Tennyson Gardens in Darlington are concerned over a lack of fire exit at their properties especially after a fire at number niine on the street. The residents are Jayne Johnson, Josephine O'Mahony, Elizabeth Longstaff, Lill

SAFETY ISSUE: Residents of Tennyson Gardens in Darlington are concerned over a lack of fire exit at their properties especially after a fire at number niine on the street. The residents are Jayne Johnson, Josephine O'Mahony, Barbara Coatsworth, Eliza

First published in News by

RESIDENTS of a sheltered housing complex are calling on a council to act after an elderly lady became trapped when a fire broke out.

Witnesses believe the 73-year-old lady - said to be asthmatic - had to be rescued by firefighters after she was unable to reach the bungalow's one external door or climb out of the windows.

Her neighbours described the incident as predictable and claimed dozens of the homes, most of which have just one external door, have inadequate methods of escape in the event of fire.

The residents of Tennyson Gardens in Darlington, say they have campaigned for years to improve fire safety and are now urging Darlington Borough Council to tackle the issue as a matter of urgency.

An investigation by the fire service into the cause of the blaze, which happened on Wednesday (September 3) at around 3pm, is underway.

Neighbour Josephine O’Mahony, 69, said: “This lady is in her seventies and she has asthma – I’m surprised she’s still alive.

“It seems as though the fire stopped her getting to her door and she had no way to get out of the house.

“This incident has distressed and upset everyone as we’ve been asking the council and fire brigade for years to get something done and nobody’s taken any notice of us.

“The last person we had come out shrugged their shoulders and told us to climb out of the windows but most of us are elderly or disabled and one woman only has one leg.

“We want some kind of fire escape because only eight out of about 30 bungalows has a back door and if a fire breaks out at the front, there’s no way of getting out.

A Darlington Borough Council spokeswoman said all properties at Tennyson Gardens met current building regulations and safety requirements and had hard-wired fire detection systems.

She added: “It was this protection that alerted our control centre that there was a problem.

“The Control Centre operator opened the speech channel to talk to the resident and the fire service and Lifeline response team were called.

“The Lifeline response team contacted a family member of the occupier and stayed on site until the property was secured.”

The lady was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital where she was treated for smoke inhalation.

Comments (3)

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3:41pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Hurtwood says...

Clearly what would be a worrying and distressing story is not as bad as being promoted in this article and an alternative escape route/rear door is necessarily the answer. Was there a smoke alarm fitted? Did it work? Did someone check that she could hear it? If so, was she capable of responding to it and able to escape? Ultimately, how vulnerable was she and did she require additional support? I'm guessing this was a small dwelling so the distance to travel to the door would not have been excessive in terms of general fire safety requirements which is in almost ALL situations a very special consideration.
What caused the fire? Was there an additional fire hazard that was unexpected in this dwelling? Why did it start? Why did it spread so quickly so that she was trapped and had to be rescued? There's a lot of unknowns here and it doesn't help matters when officials or otherwise begin to challenge the council's ability to provide a fire safe environment! I'll put my money on the fact that there has been an over reaction, unless someone has failed in their management of these premises, in which case the fire authority/Housing Authority will respond and take action appropriate action. I suggest everyone watches out for the fire investigation report and I'm sure that in the end the fire and/or building regulations were not complied with and/or the occupier was not given that attention and support needed that resulted in this situation.

Philip Watkins (ex Fire Officer - London Fire Brigade) and now..
Hurtwood Fisk Management Ltd
Clearly what would be a worrying and distressing story is not as bad as being promoted in this article and an alternative escape route/rear door is necessarily the answer. Was there a smoke alarm fitted? Did it work? Did someone check that she could hear it? If so, was she capable of responding to it and able to escape? Ultimately, how vulnerable was she and did she require additional support? I'm guessing this was a small dwelling so the distance to travel to the door would not have been excessive in terms of general fire safety requirements which is in almost ALL situations a very special consideration. What caused the fire? Was there an additional fire hazard that was unexpected in this dwelling? Why did it start? Why did it spread so quickly so that she was trapped and had to be rescued? There's a lot of unknowns here and it doesn't help matters when officials or otherwise begin to challenge the council's ability to provide a fire safe environment! I'll put my money on the fact that there has been an over reaction, unless someone has failed in their management of these premises, in which case the fire authority/Housing Authority will respond and take action appropriate action. I suggest everyone watches out for the fire investigation report and I'm sure that in the end the fire and/or building regulations were not complied with and/or the occupier was not given that attention and support needed that resulted in this situation. Philip Watkins (ex Fire Officer - London Fire Brigade) and now.. Hurtwood Fisk Management Ltd Hurtwood
  • Score: 2

4:22pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Hurtwood says...

Clearly what would be a worrying and distressing story but an alternative escape route/rear door is necessarily the answer. Was there a smoke alarm fitted? Did it work? Did someone check that she could hear it? If so, was she capable of responding to it and able to escape? Ultimately, how vulnerable was she and did she require additional support? I'm guessing this was a small dwelling so the distance to travel to the door would not have been excessive in terms of general fire safety requirements which is in almost ALL situations a very special consideration.
What cause the fire? Why did it start? Why did it spread so quickly so that she was trapped and had to be rescued? There are a lot of unknowns here and it doesn't help matters when officials or otherwise begin to challenge the council's ability to provide a fire safe environment! I'll put my money on the fact that there has been an over reaction, unless someone has failed in their management of these premises, in which case the fire authority/Housing Authority will respond and take action appropriate action. I suggest everyone watches what happens and I'm sure that in the end the fire and building regulations were not complied with and/or the occupier not given that attention and support needed.
Philip Watkins
Hurtwood Fisk Management Ltd
Clearly what would be a worrying and distressing story but an alternative escape route/rear door is necessarily the answer. Was there a smoke alarm fitted? Did it work? Did someone check that she could hear it? If so, was she capable of responding to it and able to escape? Ultimately, how vulnerable was she and did she require additional support? I'm guessing this was a small dwelling so the distance to travel to the door would not have been excessive in terms of general fire safety requirements which is in almost ALL situations a very special consideration. What cause the fire? Why did it start? Why did it spread so quickly so that she was trapped and had to be rescued? There are a lot of unknowns here and it doesn't help matters when officials or otherwise begin to challenge the council's ability to provide a fire safe environment! I'll put my money on the fact that there has been an over reaction, unless someone has failed in their management of these premises, in which case the fire authority/Housing Authority will respond and take action appropriate action. I suggest everyone watches what happens and I'm sure that in the end the fire and building regulations were not complied with and/or the occupier not given that attention and support needed. Philip Watkins Hurtwood Fisk Management Ltd Hurtwood
  • Score: 0

4:23pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Hurtwood says...

The above/previous article should read that another exit door is NOT the answer! Apologies. Hurtwood Fire
The above/previous article should read that another exit door is NOT the answer! Apologies. Hurtwood Fire Hurtwood
  • Score: 0

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