Workmen left pensioners trapped after varnishing them into their homes. Furious residents of three tower blocks said they had to use brute force to get their doors open. Some people had to rescue frail neighbours who were too weak to battle their way out.
The problem is thought to have affected more than 100 people in the buildings in Falkirk, which house over-65s. The frames of some of the state-of-the-art firedoors, which cost more than £700 each when fitted last year, were damaged in residents' efforts to get out.
Ian Trapp, 74, who lives in Parkfoot Court, described the situation as a "shambles". He said: "I had to shoulder charge my door to get it open and the beading and seals around the frame came apart. I've spoken to others in this block who were faced with exactly the same problem. It was farcical."
He said there were some women in their 90s who had to contact stronger residents to help them get out of their homes. Falkirk Council bosses have now ordered repairs to be carried out at the flats at Parkfoot, Breton and Cornton Courts.