FIRE false alarms have left dozens of pensioners “frantic” in a trouble-hit South Tyneside tower block.
There are growing concerns about the number of fire alarms going off at Durham Court, Hebburn.
Alarms were activated about 30 times in one night recently, sparking calls for a timer device inside the flats to be adjusted.
Elderly residents often only have 15 seconds to press a button to inform the concierge that there is no actual fire.
A resident told a meeting of Hebburn community area forum this week: “Some of the elderly people are disabled and they cannot get to the ‘hush’ button in time.
“The alarms went off 30 times one night and this left a lot of the elderly residents absolutely frantic.
“The buttons need to be adjusted, so they can shut down the alarms, before they sound.”
Durham Court has been at the centre of a row about what is claimed to be a lack of security.
A man was glassed inside one of the flats and youths have been gaining access to the tower block.
The concerns follow the transfer of concierge staff from Hebburn to South Shields town centre before Christmas.
Mark Witherspoon, manager of Hebburn fire station, said: “We do have a large amount of false alarms across the borough.
“Some of these are caused by cooking and people also need to exercise caution when spraying deodorants.”
But Mr Witherspoon stressed that 15 seconds can make a “significant” difference in the life of a fire.
He added: “In Durham Court, there is a delay time to silence the alarms and we need to risk-assess the residents.”
A spokesman for South Tyneside Homes said residents usually have between 15 and 30 seconds to deactivate emergency alarms.