Fire Safety in a building cannot be managed without knowing the building’s fire emergency strategy. ‘Stay put or Evacuate?’ is a question that has raised a lot of conversation since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017 and is still discussed today. Fire Risk Assessments form the foundation on which the entire fire strategy for a building rests, so it is highly important that they are kept up-to-date and are carried out by a competent person or organisation.
But what are the different fire evacuation strategies and when should they be applied?
The ‘Stay Put’ principle has been widely applied since the 1960s and is still used in many blocks of flats today. Generally, the Stay Put policy is designed to work best in purpose-built blocks of flats. It works by allowing residents to remain in their own flats in relative safety in the event of a fire in another flat or communal area.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) supports a ‘Stay Put’ policy wherever possible as it reflects the building regulation requirement that each flat should be its own fire-resisting compartment – therefore effective compartmentation is key for this strategy.
A ‘Stay Put’ Policy involves the following approach:
- When a fire occurs within a flat, the occupants alert others in the flat, make their way out of the building and call for the fire and rescue service;
- If a fire starts in the common areas, all persons in these areas make their way out of the building and call the fire and rescue service;
- All residents who are in their flat and are not affected by the fire are expected to Stay Put until directed by the fire and rescue service.
Alternatively, where compartmentation cannot be confirmed or designed into the building to support a Stay Put policy, Simultaneous Evacuation will often be recommended and adopted. For this to be applied, alarm and detection systems should be suitable to alert all residents and allow them to evacuate in a timely manner.
Phased Evacuation Policy
Furthermore, if you manage a tall and complex residential building, it is likely that the ‘Stay Put’ policy will not be appropriate. Therefore, if there is a whole building smoke and fire alarm in place, phased evacuation policy may be put in place. This means, evacuating only those at immediate risk first (usually floor of origin and sometimes floor above or below) then allow people not at immediate risk to delay starting theirevacuation.
For further advice or guidance, please get in touch.