Sunderland’s tower block tenants reassured of their safety after Grenfell Tower tragedy

Gentoo residents George Brewis and Tony Kinnair.
Gentoo residents George Brewis and Tony Kinnair.

Residents living in Sunderland’s high-rise blocks are being reassured of their safety following the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London.

As police confirm the death toll from the blaze in the capital has reached 30, householders living in Sunderland flats are being visited by housing representatives to ease any fears they might have.

Housing company Gentoo currently has more than 2,000 tenants living in 26 multi-storey buildings across Wearside and says the security of residents is of paramount importance.

Earlier this week the company confirmed that none of the high rise blocks in Gentoo’s ownership have the same cladding and insulation as appears to have been on the Grenfell Tower.

And, the contractors and sub-contractors referred to in the tragedy, have not been used to work on Sunderland high rise blocks.

Although fire services say it could be a while before they know the exact cause of the London blaze, the horrors of what happened have been felt across the country.

But, residents living in tower blocks in Silksworth, say they still feel very safe in their homes.

Tony Kinnair, 76, who has lived in Aldenham Tower for 49 years, said: “When you see what happened on the television, it does put a salty taste in your mouth, it’s only natural. But, we have lived here a long time and nothing like that has ever happened and nothing like that would ever happen here.”

George Brewis, 85, who has lived in nearby Aberdeen Tower for 50 years, said: “I felt terrible for the people in London, it is so tragic. But I am not concerned at all about our flats they are completely safe.”

George, who moved in just a year after the flats were built, said originally there were gas fires and cookers in the flats, but these were all removed and replaced with electric in the 1970s.

He added the fire alarms are tested every Tuesday without fail.

Michelle Meldrum, executive director of operations at Gentoo, said they work very closely with the fire brigade in the city and crews often use the tower blocks for fire-fighting exercises.

She said since the devastating fire in London staff members from Gentoo have visited every home in the Wearside tower blocks to assure people and address any concerns they may have.

She added: “We have a concierge service so our tenants know they can contact someone 24 hours a day and access to the buildings are tightly controlled.”

Michelle said the staff know every person living in the flats and anyone with a disability is never housed above the fourth floor.

The flats’ fire alarms are also linked into a control room, so someone is alerted whenever smoke or fire breaks out in one of the flats.