Belfast Telegraph

Dunmurry tower block fire: Safety systems worked as they should and 'right' communal alarms did not sound, says fire service

By Jonathan Bell

Safety systems in the Dunmurry tower block acted as they should and it was right that communal fire alarms did not sound, the Northern Ireland Fire Service has emphasised.

Fire Service Group commander Geoff Somerville emphasised the safety systems worked correctly. He said in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy in London his officers reviewed the safety of every high-rise building in Northern Ireland meeting over 2,000 residents face-to-face.

Speaking to the BBC he said he understood resident's concerns, but said those living in high-rise buildings across the country should have no concerns. Mr Sommerville said everyone should check they have a working fire alarm.

The fire broke out on Wednesday evening at Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill. A toaster was to blame. Around 100 tenants from 56 flats were evacuated with two people taken to hospital.  One flat has been destroyed with 14 damaged, most by water.

The scar of the blaze was evident at day break on Thursday up the side of the building.

Fire-fighter Somerville said smoke alarms should not sound in unaffected flats as access for his firefighters to get to the origin of the blaze was vital.

"It is very important to reassure the public the fire alarm system did work correctly as it should have and was configured correctly.... the fire should not spread."

He said in each flat there was three smoke alarms which in this case alerted the resident of the fire. He was then able to evacuate to the lobby and when smoke went into that area the separate communal system activated triggering venting systems.

Mr Somerville said the communal system is not supposed to sound.

"That is the correct configuration because only when smoke enters another flat should other residents be evacuated. The fire should not spread beyond that flat. The incident last night developed as we would expect.

"Memories of Grenfell are very raw but it was unprecedented. There is a risk, as there is with any fire. The resident was able to self-evacuate and the fire service was able to take four people away to safety.

"The other residents did not have to evacuate as we need to get our firefighters in and use those common stairwells free so that we can tackle the fire.

"Residents need to be aware that if there is no smoke in their flat they are not at risk. Once their fire alarm activates then they need to evacuate."

The flats at Seymour Hill . Pic: Crowded Space Drones
The flats at Seymour Hill . Pic: Crowded Space Drones
The flats at Seymour Hill . Pic: Crowded Space Drones
A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/11/2017 A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/11/2017 A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
The blaze in Dunmurry
Repairs and cleaning up starts after the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry. Pic: Freddie Parkinson Presseye
Repairs and cleaning up starts after the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry. Pic: Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye ©
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Wednesday 16 November 2017 Repairs and cleaning up starts after the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Wednesday 16 November 2017 Repairs and cleaning up starts after the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Wednesday 16 November 2017 Repairs and cleaning up starts after the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry.
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye © Wednesday 16 November 2017 Repairs and cleaning up starts after the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/11/2017 A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/11/2017 A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/11/2017 A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 15/11/2017 A fire has broken out at a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of west Belfast. Firefighters and ambulance crews were sent to Coolmoyne House flats on Seymour Hill, as flames and smoke hit multiple floors of the tower block Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry
Mandatory Credit - Picture by Freddie Parkinson © Wednesday 15 November 2017 All services attend the fire at Coolmoyne House in Dunmurry

The Housing Executive said a review of the incident would be carried out.

Chief executive Clarke Bailey said after the Grenfell disaster extensive work went into ensuring each of its tower blocks were safe in the event of a fire.

"When an incident like this happens you review every single piece of information. We will act on the best possible advice," he said.

"It is vital residents have confidence in us."

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