Smoke alarms for town centre

HUNDREDS of homes in central Ipswich are to be made safer as part of a fire initiative being launched today.A total of £7,000 is to be spent fitting fire alarms to homes in the centre of the town in a move prompted by a recent tragedy.

HUNDREDS of homes in central Ipswich are to be made safer as part of a fire initiative being launched today.

A total of £7,000 is to be spent fitting fire alarms to homes in the centre of the town in a move prompted by a recent tragedy.

Ipswich Town division councillor Kevan Lim is to spend his locality budget on supplying alarms which will be targeted at properties which would otherwise be unprotected.

And the alarms will be fitted by firefighters as part of their attempts to prevent blazes.

Mr Lim said: "The importance of fitting smoke alarms was emphasised earlier this year when there was a fatal house fire at Orford Street in my division."

Ipswich businessman Graham Gillett died after the fire at his home on January 14.

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"That showed the importance of having alarms, but the kind of places we are especially concerned about are houses that have been converted into flats or bedsits.

"In those cases it sometimes isn't clear who is responsible for smoke alarms and they are not fitted or properly maintained."

Firefighters in central Ipswich are currently drawing up plans to fit the alarms – and estimate they will be able to fit them into about 525 properties.

Divisional Officer Kevin Burton said they were keen that the public should know about the programme because of problems with "cold-calling" on households.

He said: "We will often call on neighbours and fit alarms if there has been a fire in the area.

"In those circumstances people are aware that there are firefighters in the area – and the importance of smoke alarms has been brought home to them.

"But we don't want to just go cold-calling on people, so we shall probably leaflet an area first."

Mr Burton said it was vital to get into properties which had been converted into flats.

He said: "In a family home we normally find that everyone knows where everyone is. In a property that has been split up, you don't know who's in and out.

"Also there tend to be communal areas which are no specific person's responsibility and no one knows who should put a fire alarm there.

"There are also problems with us fitting alarms because we can fit them to private houses for people, but when you are dealing with flats it is the landlord's responsibility.

"They are seen as a business, and we are not allowed to help businesses under the terms of our normal funding for fire prevention.

"But this locality budget money doesn't have such restrictions and we are able to use it in those kind of properties."

Opinion – page 6

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