Residents speak out on fire safety after blaze at Leeds tower block flat

Flat fire at Poplar Court in Bramley. 25th March 2018.
Flat fire at Poplar Court in Bramley. 25th March 2018.
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Some residents living in a complex of four tower blocks in Bramley have said they still feel safe after a blaze last week was contained within the flat where it started.

West Yorkshire Fire Service is continuing to investigate the cause of last Tuesday morning’s blaze, which badly damaged a flat on the eighth floor of the Poplar Court two tower block in Bramley but did not spread to other flats.

A man, woman and child who got themselves out of the building were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

In a letter to housing secretary Sajid Javid following the Bramley fire, Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has urged him to cover the £10m Leeds City Council is spending to fund urgent work to improve fire safety standards in all high-rise blocks in Leeds.

And Ms Reeves has also asked the government for a further £22m to retrofit sprinkler systems in all high rises in Leeds.

Ms Reeves said in the letter that there have been 13 fires in flats and communal areas in the Poplar complex in the last three years.

Grandmother Jacqueline Smith, 57, lives on the seventh floor of Poplar Court two with her husband Anthony, 56.

She said: “I do feel safe because the fire was contained within the flat, it didn’t go anywhere else. We have been here for five years and I have seen quite a few fires.

“We should have a consultation (on sprinklers). If sprinklers mean every time there is a fire everybody’s flat is flooded then that’s not the answer.”

Retired tailor Ronald Mallory, 83, has lived on the seventh floor of neighbouring Poplar Court one with wife Marion, 86, for 30 years.

Mr Mallory said he feels “very safe” in the flats, adding: “You can’t put a sprinkler your own flat, they will be going off all over the place. I couldn’t really see it working in individual flats.”

Mr Mallory said he would support installing sprinklers in communal areas.

Oleg Velecico, 29 lives in Poplar Court One with wide Anges, 24, and their two children aged one and two.

Mr Velecico, said: “We feel safe enough. I think sprinklers might be good to prevent something serious.”

Fork lift truck driver Tony Owens, 43, has lived on the fourth floor of Poplar Court two for two years.

He said: “I do feel the flats would benefit from smoke alarms in communal areas.

“I can’t see them putting sprinklers in each flat because if one goes off they all go off.”

However, carer Mark Smith, 50, who lives in Poplar Court one, said he does not feel safe in the flats after the blaze.

He said: “There should be a fire alarm everyone can hear.”

He added: “There should be some sort of sprinkler system in the flats.”