An inquest into the death of a 23 year old architect who tried to save her fiancée from an apartment fire, has been told that the fire alarms in her block of flats had been found turned off two years before the blaze killed her. Sophie Rosser died after she entered the burning building to assist her partner Oscar Silva (28) in London’s East End last August reports the Daily Mail.
The inquest into the death of Ms Rosser was told that in 2011 a fire alarm repair company had been called to the block to fix a faulty system. When Alpha Peerless arrived at the block they discovered the fire alarm has been turned off.
Mike Chesterton, from Alpha Peerless, said: “When we arrived on site we were shown to the existing fire alarm system, but the existing system was switched off and the batteries were flat.”
Coroner Mary Hassell quizzed Mr Chesterton about whether the system needed to be turned off in order to maintain it. He replied: “No, it shouldn’t be. If we were going to switch it off we would inform people before we did that. We try and keep the alarm system going as long as possible, because of protection.”
Chesterton said that staff from the block’s management company had explained that the fire alarm had been turned off because it had displayed some faults. He went on to state the system had been off for some time and the faults themselves had been present before the power was cut.
The inquest was then told that Alpha Peerless undertook £440 (plus VAT) of repairs to the system but this did not solve every problem. The company claims that when they left the site they made clear that additional work needed to be done.
The Coroner then asked Chesterton whether the representative of the management company could have had any doubt that the “replacement (control) panel had not been installed? There was no doubt that he knew that there was no replacement panel in situ?”
The alarm company boss confirmed that there was “absolutely” no doubt, and that he had been “very uncomfortable” leaving a system with faults on. However, he had “assumed” that another contractor would finish the work.
It is unclear whether the work was finished, but the allegations of poor maintenance are likely to have made a significant impact on the court. The inquest continues.