Belfast tower fire alarms worked ‘as expected,’ firefighter says

Some residents say alarms did not sound after fire took hold in high-rise lastnight

Firefighters at the scene of a fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry, near Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Firefighters at the scene of a fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry, near Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Firefighters have said the alarm system in the Belfast tower block which went on fire lastnight “worked as expected”.

Some residents expressed concerns that fire alarms did not sound through the building when the blaze took hold on Wednesday night.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Group Commander Geoff Somerville said the alarm system operated as designed, with the soundless alarm system in the communal area to open air vents also activating.

He said alarms in other flats should only have sounded if they detected smoke.

“The fire alarm system worked as expected,” he said.

Mr Somerville said crews had averted the spread of the fire to other flats.

“It flashed out through the windows of the flat on two different sides of the building,” he said.

“When we arrived it was a very well developed fire and I’m glad to say it was very quickly brought under control.”

Firefighters were praised for averting loss of life after the blaze burst through windows of a ninth floor apartment in Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry, causing scorch damage on two sides of the 14-storey property.

The man whose flat caught alight was rescued by fire service personnel who also helped lead other residents to safety.

Paramedics tended to four patients, a Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said.

Mr Somerville said the accidental fire, which he said was suspected to have been caused by a toaster, was well developed when crews arrived within five minutes of the emergency call.

“I am very relieved there is no loss of life and that is only because of the courageous actions of our firefighters here today,” he said.

“We had 55 firefighters in attendance and thanks to their professionalism no one has lost their life in this premises.”

The fire comes a day after the five-month anniversary of the Grenfell high-rise inferno which killed at least 80 people.

Evacuated residents gathered outside the building as the emergency response unfolded. Some later went to a nearby community centre.

–PA