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Pensioner fears home is fire trap

PUBLISHED: 16:01 11 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:00 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

A CAISTER pensioner fears his bungalow could become a fire trap, preventing his elderly wife and himself from escaping unless another door is created.

Peter Jones, 69, who lives in Eastern Avenue with wife Patricia, 67, believes if there was a fire in their kitchen at night, the couple would have to walk from their bedroom through the flames to get to their front and back doors.

A CAISTER pensioner fears his bungalow could become a fire trap, preventing his elderly wife and himself from escaping unless another door is created.

Peter Jones, 69, who lives in Eastern Avenue with wife Patricia, 67, believes if there was a fire in their kitchen at night, the couple would have to walk from their bedroom through the flames to get to their front and back doors.

The only alternative escape route is through the window of their rented council bungalow's utility room into the back garden, which would be difficult and time consuming because the gap is small and the couple suffer from medical conditions restricting their mobility.

Mrs Jones has arthritis in the bottom of her spine, hip and both knees, while her husband suffers prostate cancer and severe tremors in his hands.

Mr Jones added there were a number of similar bungalows in his street with elderly occupants who could also be in danger.

He said: “The main thing I am concerned about is the safety of my wife and the old people around here because they are all in their 80s.

“The back door is facing the front door and they are the only ways we can escape. I have even offered to pay half the price of getting a new door installed.”

The solution, he said, was to put a new door in the utility room, replacing the window, so the couple could have an easy escape route away from the kitchen where all the electrical appliances and fire hazards were.

His other fear was there were not enough smoke alarms in his property because a council official visited the couple in March to check their smoke alarms and said the bungalow needed four, rather than the current two.

Mr Jones has been campaigning for the new door for the last four years and has written a number of letters to the council calling for action to be taken. He has also contacted the Local Government Ombudsman, who is investigating the matter.

The pensioner added improvements had been made to a number of similar council-owned properties in Haylett Close, which backs onto his home, including extra smoke alarms to improve fire safety.

Simon Baker, the council's housing support services manager, said he could not comment on individual cases but there was an on going improvement programme to replace windows and doors of council-owned properties.

He added: “His property could be in the programme of works if it is one of the types of properties that has been programmed in.”

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