IT’S Sheffield’s tallest building and home to hundreds of people - but the 32-storey City Lofts Tower does not have a communal fire alarm system, The Star can reveal.
The tower and an adjoining 12-storey block contain 316 apartments which have individual fire detection systems and smoke alarms. But they are not linked together and residents are not even made aware of a fire if it occurs elsewhere in the complex.
Fire service officials insist the arrangement is safe because each property is built as a concrete box with a fire door and designed to contain a blaze for up to 60 minutes.
But residents, many of whom didn’t even know there was no communal fire alarm, say they are concerned.
Resident Diljeet Singh was unaware of the system until The Star informed him.
He said: “I’m shocked. I thought it was a requirement to have an alarm system for the whole building - it’s something you’d expect to be there automatically.
“We pay £1,000 a year in service charges and you would think a full fire alarm service would be included. “What about the risk of fire and smoke spreading? It is not something that should be left until after a serious incident occurs.”
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said he’d recently left his apartment to find firefighters dealing with a smoke alarm at the Sainsbury’s store below the building.
“There had been a fire alarm - caused by a resident’s over-sensitive smoke detector,” he said.
“Astonishingly, no alarms were sounded for the residents.
“After discussing this with the concierge, it seems the fire chief has dictated no general fire alarm is necessary for the building, claiming fire protection systems are enough to secure our safety. This is quite the most ludicrous nonsense I’ve ever heard.
“If there is a fire in the tower, the fire service propose to deal with it without informing the residents.
“There is no way of predicting the effects of any accident and as we saw in New York - albeit on a much larger scale - a substantial fire in a lower portion of a large tower can lead to disaster.
“What if someone were to detonate a bomb?
“Or what if a petrol tanker came off the dual carriageway and slammed into Sainsbury’s?
“The residents would be left to hope the fire service could deal with it. This is an absolute disgrace.”
Paul Salter, group manager for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The development has been designed according to building regulations.
“Each property has its own fire detection and alarm system but the flats are designed so each is a separate concrete box with a fire door, which can withstand a fire inside for 60 minutes. The taller, 32-storey block also has a sprinkler system.
“If there is a fire, there is no need to evacuate the entire building and we have a ‘stay put’ policy. If it was a really serious fire, the fire service would identify which floors were at risk and evacuate those areas.”