Residents of tower blocks in Easton and Lawrence Hill will press council chiefs for answers on fire safety measures this week. After a fire killed one person and injured eight at Twinnell House, off Stapleton Road, council tenants are now demanding fire marshals and new sprinklers.
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees and cabinet member for housing Tom Renhard were both invited to come to a meeting, set up by tower block residents, on Thursday, October 13, to hear their concerns about “inadequate” fire safety measures. It’s unclear if either has agreed to attend.
Some residents, according to community union Acorn, said they lacked trust in Bristol City Council to keep their homes safe. The council previously said fire safety measures worked as expected at the Twinnell House fire on September 25, and is spending £1 million on inspections.
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Jess, who did not give her surname, lives at Lansdowne Court on Easton Road. She said: “The advice we have from the council claims they have already put safety measures in place, which we as residents know still have not been implemented. For me that’s the scariest part.”
Acorn said residents are demanding regular fire safety checks, sprinklers, and marshals around the clock until full safety measures are in place. Twinnell House residents previously said they did not hear fire alarms and the evacuation was chaotic.
The ‘public accountability meeting’ will be held on Thursday, October 13, from 10am at the Easton Christian Family Centre on Beaufort Street. Also invited is Fiona Lester, head of housing management and estates. The council was asked if the three bosses had agreed to attend, but did not respond to requests.
Shaban Ali lives at Barton House near Netham Park. He said: “After the Grenfell tragedy, any death caused by fire in a high-rise is one death too many. It’s obvious no lessons have been learned and nobody wants to take accountability, nor put it right for remaining residents.”
Last week, the council’s cabinet agreed to spend up to £1 million on inspecting its 62 high-rise tower blocks across the city for fire safety measures. These inspections are needed under new government regulations coming from the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
During the cabinet meeting, Mr Rees said: “That fire [in Twinnell House] broke out in a top-floor flat, didn’t spread, our cladding didn’t combust, the fire was contained within the flat, and the fire service had access to it. We didn’t need a full evacuation in the end, but when people were evacuated it was done in an orderly way. It should give us confidence in the measures in place in our blocks of flats.”
Father-of-seven Abdul Jabar Oryakhel, 30, died after falling from a window on the 16th floor of Twinnell House, while eight residents were treated in hospital for smoke inhalation. According to the council, the fire was caused by an electric bike.
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