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£500,000 fire safety project completed in Northumberland

Residents at The Manors Extra Care scheme in Prudhoe, Northumberland, are feeling extra safe in their homes thanks to the completion of a major fire safety enhancement programme from landlord Karbon Homes. 

The Manors, which is owned and managed by the local housing association and was built in 2013, has been fitted with a full building sprinkler system, to help provide an enhanced level of safety and security for the residents, the businesses and the wider community who use the building, should a fire break out. 

Jon McDonald, Head of Supported Housing at Karbon Homes said: “Fire is indiscriminate, it destroys lives, businesses and properties, and the longer-term impact on our older, potentially more vulnerable, residents’ confidence to remain living independently is devastating. 

“By making this investment, we’ve significantly improved the overall safety of the scheme, given residents a greater level of reassurance at home and, in turn, made the scheme a great place to live and a place where people want to move.” 

Working in partnership with contractor Harmony Fire, the project took three months to complete, and saw all 46 apartments and all the building’s communal areas fitted with the system.  

Sprinklers have been likened to having a firefighter in every room, only activating when they detect heat above a certain level and letting out a spray of water over the affected area, not a surge across the whole property as sometimes shown in films. 

Kevin Smith, Fire Safety Manager at Karbon Homes, said: “We’re really pleased with the results of this major project, which has had a positive impact on the safety of everyone who uses The Manors. 

“From the very first meeting with Harmony, through to work completion, the project has been seamless. It’s a great example of the impact great collaboration between partners can have when delivering a project of this nature, and the high levels of customer satisfaction throughout illustrate this perfectly.” 

Due to the higher vulnerability levels amongst residents, including those with visual impairments, cognitive impairments and mobility issues, as well as providing essential protection for those individuals in the event of a fire, the sprinkler system also helps limit false alarms and unnecessary full building evacuations. 

Resident engagement played a key role throughout the project. Residents were given opportunities to ask questions, see plans, better understand the system itself and influence the works programme timeline. 

Alongside this the team carried out fire safety awareness sessions, ensuring everyone was clear on what to do in the event of a fire and alert to the most common causes of fires developing. 

Matt Ford, Head of Mechanical and Electrical at Harmony Fire, commented: 'We are immensely proud to have partnered with Karbon Homes on this crucial fire safety initiative. Our integrated approach, operating as both consultant and contractor, has allowed us to deliver a more streamlined and cohesive project for our client.  

“The work at The Manors not only enhances safety for residents today but also supports a proactive approach to fire prevention, ensuring a safer living environment going forward."  

The success of the project has received external recognition within the housing sector, after being shortlisted in the Best Resident Safety Initiative category at the Northern Housing Awards. 

The installation is part of a wider five-year commitment from Karbon to invest £8million in building safety measures across all its housing. This commitment has also achieved award recognition, with Karbon fire safety team being shortlisted for Fire Safety Team of the Year at the Fire and Security Matters Awards. 

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