National Fire Chief’s Council issues new residential flats guidance

The document ‘Guidance: To support a temporary change to simultaneous evacuation strategy in purpose-built blocks of flats’ introduces a ‘simultaneous evacuation’ strategy in purpose-built blocks of flats which is where in the event of a fire the entire building is evacuated at once. The guidance applies to premises in England and Wales.

A simultaneous evacuation strategy is only put in place following a comprehensive risk assessment, carried out by a competent person.

It sets out the context and decision-making considerations in moving from a “Stay Put” strategy to simultaneous evacuation policy. It also includes further guidance on ‘Waking Watch’, which uses trained staff to assist with detecting a fire and raising the alarm.

The guidance applies to purpose-built blocks of flats where a ‘Stay Put’ policy was part of the original design but has cladding similar to that found at Grenfell Tower.

A simultaneous evacuation strategy should only be a temporary measure until any risks have been rectified.

NFCC still supports the principle of a Stay Put strategy whenever possible, as it has been proved over many years to be safe for residents of purpose-built blocks of flats.

NFCC also supports the ‘Fire safety in Purpose Built Block of Flats’ guidance, which remains appropriate for all purpose-built blocks of flats.

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