Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Spirit of Dunmurry tower blaze residents admirable

Coming just five months after the Grenfell Tower inferno in which 71 residents perished, the fire in a high-rise block of flats in Dunmurry was obviously a terrifying experience for those affected.

Fortunately, thanks to working alarms systems and prompt response from the Fire and Rescue Service, injuries were confined to a couple of minor cases and the blaze was contained to the flat in which it started - although several others suffered smoke and water damage.

Many will agree with a senior official from the Housing Executive, owner of the building, who expressed shock at the ferocity of what was, relatively speaking, a small blaze.

And they will be grateful for the courage and professionalism of firefighters who not only fought the fire, but helped to evacuate the building.

What was also evident was the sense of community spirit among the residents in the tower block, who looked out for each other and not just themselves when the alarm was raised.

And the local community also weighed in by beginning a fundraising exercise for those whose accommodation and belongings were damaged or destroyed.

Northern Ireland people have a reputation of looking out for those in need and this was an example of how this caring nature can swing into action at a moment's notice.

Given Wednesday night's experience, it would have been understandable if a number of residents had decided that high-rise living was not for them, but the reaction was almost the polar opposite, with only one person considering being rehomed.

It says something for the quality of the accommodation as well as the communal spirit in the block that residents feel so much at home there.

Tower blocks may not be everyone's ideal home, but others regard them as vertical streets, which they can stroll down easily at any time to visit their friends and neighbours.

The only complaint raised in the wake of the fire was that many residents did not hear any alarms. The block is fitted with silent alarms in communal areas which are monitored around the clock and these worked perfectly, but residents want traditional alarms fitted instead, which would provide a warning to them in the event of fire.

Technically, the system installed works well, yet the views of residents must be taken on board and discussed seriously by the authorities.

Belfast Telegraph

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