Council tenants unwittingly refuse smoke alarms in Islington

COUNCIL tenants have been put at risk by unwittingly turning down smoke alarm installations.

People who refused new kitchens or bathrooms under the Decent Homes scheme also missed out on live-saving smoke detectors, which are fitted as part of the same package of works - and most did not realise.

A pensioner who died in December in a flat fire had not been given a new alarm because she declined Decent Homes refurbishments. Mary Kendrick, 74, died after becoming trapped in her burning flat in Pollard Close, Holloway.

Councillor Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group at Islington Council, said: “The woman and her husband had refused Decent Homes work, which included fitting a new smoke alarm. I understand that they didn’t have one already.

“I don’t think people know the consequences of refusing a new kitchen or bathroom. It is an unwitting consequence that they don’t get a smoke alarm fitted.

“I don’t think they should have the right to refuse. Saying no to a kitchen is one thing – but saying no to a life saving installation is another.”

Residents often opt out of the upgrades simply because they do not want to undergo the disturbance of major refurbishments.

Most Read

HfI, which manages Islington Council properties and undertakes the Decent Homes work, announced last week that it is changing its policy.

A spokeswoman said: “In light of the tragic fire at Pollard Close - where there was an unplugged smoke detector in the flat - HfI has reviewed its policy towards smoke alarms so tenants should not be able to opt out of having smoke detectors fitted.

“HfI is starting a programme of electrical inspection and testing in flats and have specifically included the installation of smoke detectors, where they are not already fitted.

“HfI works in very close partnership with the London Fire Brigade to promote fire safety, and Islington leads the way in London when it comes to generating Home Fire Safety Visit referrals.”