TENANTS of flats who interfere with smoke alarms could create a potential death trap, a landlord has warned.
This week a Fleetwood man went before magistrates in Blackpool after tapping into a smoke alarm connected to the mains to obtain free electricity.
His actions in using the electricity to power a fan heater disabled every smoke alarm in the building at Balmoral Terrace, creating a life-threatening situation in the event of fire.
Now landlord Emmie Salter has warned other Fylde coast property owners to be on their guard and wants tenants to be aware of the possible risks.
She told The Gazette: “This is a three-storey building and if there had been a fire no-one would have known anything about it because none of the alarms were working. It could have been lethal.
“New rules mean that smoke alarms have to be wired to the mains and paid for by the landlord.
“It was going on for about three weeks when the alarms kept switching off and I couldn’t understand it.
“I called in an engineer to look at the control panel.
“Eventually he went in the flat concerned and discovered what had been going on. Other landlords should be aware this sort of thing could be going on.
“And tenants who do this sort of thing are acting very irresponsibly as well as putting lives at risk.”
Mrs Salter has been a landlord for 30 years and has 18 flats in the Balmoral Terrace and Bold Street area of Fleetwood.
She added: “I try to be a responsible landlord. I am at the properties three or four times a week and I have an agent as well.
“It’s a difficult and expensive task, keeping up with all the new regulations but I have put new things in to make it as safe as possible, but then you get someone playing around with the electricity. It’s dangerous.”
The man who went to court was given 12 months community supervision and had to pay £247 compensation for stealing electricity.
Station manager at Fleetwood Fire Station Neil Taylor said: “Smoke alarms are a first line of defence in fighting fires. They save lives and must not be interfered with in any way.
“It is imperative alarms are checked on a regular basis.”
Anyone interested in a home fire safety check, when they could get a free alarm, should call 0800 169 1125 or log on to www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk.