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Why were fire ventilation windows screwed shut at Uxbridge town centre block of flats?

The screws were later removed but residents are concerned over how it happened in the first place

Fairlie House residents grew alarmed when emergency ventilation windows which are supposed to open in event of fire were screwed shut(Image: Google)

Hillingdon Council has been criticised after residents found that vital ventilation windows in a town centre block of flats had been screwed shut.

Fairlie House, which has nine storeys and is accessed from The Pavillions shopping centre, had its emergency ventilation windows locked last Thursday (July 13).

The hallway windows and ventilation windows on every floor are supposed to automatically open in the event of a fire, to ensure people leaving their flats in an emergency have clean air to breathe and also to allow smoke to escape.

One concerned resident, who has lived on the top floor of a 72-flat housing block for 27 years, described the council as "clowns" and "fools" and said there had been no warning of the windows being screw locked.

Shortly after getwestlondon put the concerns to the council last Friday (July 14), a resident of the council-managed block told us a man with a bag of tools had gone around to remove the restrictions.

A spokesman has indicated the locks were put on by mistake and that as soon as they were made aware, the council rectified the problem.

The resident noticed the locks after he went to peer through the window at the community garden on the third floor but was unable to open it.

The towers are accessed from The Pavilions in Uxbridge town centre(Image: TMS)

The garden is shared by Fairlies House and Gouldings, an identical tower block above The Pavilions.

A significant fire in 2008 exposed that none of the sprinklers in the building worked.

"When the last fire happened more than eight years ago, none of the sprinklers on any floor went off," the resident said.

"They must not have been maintained and the council had to replace every single sprinkler after the fire.

"They created a microwave oven out of the building by doing it [screwing the windows shut].

"It [the locks] would definitely have stayed on the windows if you hadn't raised the issue with the council.

"The whole thing did not make sense."

A spokesman for Hillingdon Borough Council said: "Residents asked us to fix the problem of noisy banging doors caused by corridor windows being left open.

"The windows were screwed shut by mistake and once we became aware they were immediately unscrewed to ensure continued sufficient ventilation.

"These windows are for air circulation only and not large enough to be a means of escape from the building.

"We have made adjustments to the doors to prevent banging as much as possible and this will be further mitigated once the new fire doors with soft close fixings are fitted."

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