Tower block evacuated due to 'faulty fire alarm'

Barton House in Bristol
Image caption,

Barton House was evacuated again on Thursday night

  • Published

Residents living in a Bristol tower block, previously declared unsafe due to major structural faults, were evacuated again on Thursday due to a "fault" in the fire alarm system.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service responded to the fire alarm system sounding in Barton House at 17:01 BST. It said: "On arrival, firefighters found the alarm was caused by a fault."

An alarm engineer attended and the evacuated residents were able to return to their homes.

Bristol City Council, which owns the building, has apologised and said the alarm "was caused by a fault in the system".

Image caption,

Mr Ali was working when the fire alarm went off

Speaking outside Barton House, Mohamed Ali who lives on the 14th floor, said: "We have two small children.

"My wife was holding the smallest one and the other one by the hand, and it took an hour almost to get down the stairs."

Another resident, Waseem Mirza, said: "People left the building immediately, but some of the people like me couldn't leave because my wife had a C-section and she is unable to move.

"The person living next to my flat, he's about 85 years old, I was very worried about him.

'Very scary'

"My children started crying and screaming. I have a baby about four days old, it was very scary."

Bristol City Council has said residents like Mr Mirza should contact their housing officer who could advise on their situation.

In a letter to Barton House residents on Friday, the council confirmed the alarm sounded in response to a "false activation that was caused by a fault in the system".

It added that that the Waking Watch for the building has been reinstated and patrols had begun while contractors carried out works to replace equipment.

It said: "We are sorry for any inconvenience or concern caused and would like to reassure you that the safety of you and your household is our priority.

"We will provide a further update once works are complete."

Image caption,

Bristol City Council declared a major incident on 14 November

The building has recently undergone extensive fire safety improvement.

The council declared a major incident at the building in November, and tenants were only able to return to their home in February.

On the evening of 14 November, more than 250 residents were ordered to leave the property.

"Major structural faults" were discovered in the council-owned tower because concrete had not been fitted correctly.

A structural engineer concluded the building, which was built in 1958, would not withstand any high impact, fire or explosion.

Over the course of several months, "essential work" was completed to improve safety.

Missing structural ties to connect floors and walls were put in place.

Layers of blockwork and cement were also added where the cover was at its thinnest, in a bid to provide extra protection.

Additional fire proofing was also added in 42 flats, and a central alarm system was installed for the whole building.

Despite the additional measures, many residents felt fear of returning home.

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