Spire Homes tenant sent £500 bill after disabling fire alarm which sounded for hours

Colin Miller-Hoare, 67, of Finkey Street, Oakham, has been sent a bill for �500 after he disabled a fire alarm at his sheltered accomodation EMN-160720-160904001
Colin Miller-Hoare, 67, of Finkey Street, Oakham, has been sent a bill for �500 after he disabled a fire alarm at his sheltered accomodation EMN-160720-160904001

A retired builder who disabled the alarm at his sheltered housing complex after it rang continuously for around four hours has spoken of his anger at being sent a £500 repair bill.

Colin Miller-Hoare, 67, was at home watching the FA Cup Final at about 5pm on May 21 when a neighbour’s burnt toast triggered the alarm.

The alarm sounded in all of the flats at the complex in Finkey Street, Oakham. A fire crew came and went but the alarm continued to sound – much to the annoyance of Colin, who suffers from tinnitus.

Having reached the end of his tether, Colin found the alarm control boxin a communal area, pulled the front panel off and disabled the alarm.

Neighbours cheered when the alarm finally stopped ringing, but sheltered housing bosses told Colin he should not have touched the box.

In the weeks since then, Colin has been sent letters by landlord Spire Homes, in which police action is threatened. He has also been sent a bill for £519.08 – to cover the cost of fitting a replacement alarm box.

Colin said: “The alarm sounded continuously for around four hours. I couldn’t face it anymore. I have tinnitus from years of working in construction and it was horrible.

“I felt my only option was to turn the alarm off myself. I know I broke the front panel but if I hadn’t the eight occupants of the flats here would have been awake all night – and probably those in neighbouring streets too.”

Colin, who is divorced and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren, moved to Finkey Street four years ago. He suffers from diabetic neuropathy – a type of nerve damage which limits his mobility – and thought sheltered accomodation would fit his needs.

But now he is considering leaving his flat for good. Colin added: “I’ve never caused any problems during my time here. I like the central location, but the threat of legal action and demands for money have made me question whether or not I want to stay.

“Whatever happens next, I’m adamant I won’t pay that bill. Somebody should have come out and turned the alarm off long before I did.”

Spire Homes is part of the Longhurst Group. In a statement, the company said: “Whilst we acknowledge the frustration caused by a continuous fire alarm sounding, it has to be appreciated and remembered that these alarms protect our residents’ personal safety.

“Our out-of-hours service engineer arrived within the four-hour time-frame to reset the fire panel after activation and to check the whole system.

“The engineer found that Mr Miller-Hoare’s actions had completely smashed and destroyed the fire alarm panel from the wall. His actions had also resulted in the main door to the block being immobilised, which may have put residents at risk and the TV signal to the building had been blocked. All of which had to be replaced or repaired at a considerable expense.

“We would always advise our customers to continue to contact us and refrain from taking matters into their own hands.”