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Joss Stick Burns Down Student Home

Joss Stick Burns Down Student Home

For those who missed our January meeting, you will not have heard about the fire in one of Martyn Winfield's properties. A student tenant was studying in his front upstairs room on December 28th when he heard the fire alarm. He assumed it was a fellow housemate cooking (why can't most students cook without incinerating?) and he ignored the alarms. A little while later, when he heard what transpired to be aerosol cans exploding in the flames, he left his room to check on the disturbance and realised the house was on fire.

HarrowRd2The fire had been caused by a fellow PhD student housemate who had left joss sticks burning in his room so that it would smell nice on his return. Well, it certainly created a smell though definitely not what he had in mind.

HarrowRd1The fire brigade came quickly and soon put out the fire, which was contained in the rear bedroom by the original 4 panel pine door. Damage was thus limited to that room and the roof space - although ceilings below the roof space where all damaged as the laths in the lath and plaster construction had all been destroyed by the fire, making the ceiling in other rooms unsafe even though they appeared to be undamaged when viewed from below.

Fortunately, Martyn is insured with Boswells and their assessor quickly arrived and processed the necessary paperwork to cover the loss of rent and also the repairs which will cost more than £42,000. Martyn commented, "The smoke alarms worked perfectly but unfortunately, they were ignored by the tenant.  A shame as so much damage could have been avoided, but Boswells have been very supportive and could not have done more to help"

So what should we all do?

  1. Remind all tenants not to leave anything burning in unattended rooms
  2. Ensure fire alarms are tested regularly and doors are well fitting and able to hold back fire (most are and you rarely need the expensive ones)
  3. Remind all student tenants that houses are not halls and if a fire alarm sounds, you have to check what caused it
  4. Next time you check your houses, check the firewalls in the loft. Poor firewalls allow fires like this to quickly spread along a row of houses
  5. Check your insurance - make sure you have 5 star cover as offered by Boswells

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