Housing fire risk

THERE have been so many false fire alarms at a public housing tower block in East Perth, residents don’t evacuate anymore.

One resident at the 100-unit complex on Goderich Street told us the alarms are going off at least once a week, sometimes three.

Initially people would evacuate, but when the alarm went off this week only three people left their homes.

A resident told the Voice it’s having a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” effect, and if there was a fire many people could be killed.

“If there is a fire they’re not going to evacuate,” the resident told us. “You get on average half a dozen who come out.”

On a couple of occasions the alarms were manually activated, but residents tell us in most cases they get set off by toasters, shower steam or for no discernible reason.

The department of fire and emergency services has different codes to record different alarms, and says their being set off for “various reasons” at the Goderich Street housing complex.

“We are able to confirm that firefighters have responses to a high number of false fire alarms at 70 Goderich Street, East Perth, in recent years, and specifically in recent months,” says Michelle Smith from the DFES.

Ms Smith say they are working with the Housing Authority to reduce the number of false alarms.

In 2015 FESA introduced a fee for false fire alarms: after the third false alarm at one property in a financial year, the owner is issued a $920 bill for the callout.

Ms Smith says FESA has issued “a number of false fire alarm invoices” to the Housing Authority this year.

The DFES and the Housing Authority will meet this month to discuss fire alarm activations and possible solutions.

“The department has also provided a notice to tenants in an effort to reduce the number of attendances for fire alarms at the complex,” Jackie Tang from the authority told the Voice.

“Steps occupants can take include not smoking near detectors, ventilating steam and fumes away from detectors, and not leaving food unattended on stove tops.

“Tenants were also reminded that in the event of a fire, all occupants must evacuate the building.”

Just before we went to print a Goderich Street resident called to tell us the fire alarms had gone off, again, on the night of Tuesday February 19.

by DAVID BELL

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