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Evacuation

Theme 9

Evacuation

Last updated: 29 July 2021

Recommendation

33.22a

That the government develop national guidelines for carrying out partial or total evacuations of high-rise residential buildings, such guidelines to include the means of protecting fire exit routes and procedures for evacuating persons who are unable to use the stairs in an emergency, or who may require assistance (such as disabled people, older people and young children).

Progress date:

TBC

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Inquiry recommended that the Government develops national guidelines for carrying out partial or total evacuations of high-rise residential buildings. In December 2019, a joint Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities technical steering group was set up to support a research project which aims to review means of escape provisions in blocks of flats including the use of the ‘stay put’ strategy and evacuation.

The steering group has identified four strands to this work: an evidence review which assesses academic evidence on methods of evacuation; operational research to test evacuation strategies; building design research to evaluate fire safety provisions in buildings; and human behaviour and public confidence, to better understand public perception and understanding of evacuation strategies. Having been through a final policy and quality assurance review, the report for the first stage of work is now being finalised.  

Successful suppliers have now been appointed for the building design, human behaviour and evacuation operational research strands and the work on all three strands has now started.

The supplier is currently conducting Phase 1 of the evacuation operational research. This includes gathering evidence using a mixture of both interviews and surveys of staff from fire and rescue services and building occupants. The supplier will then conduct an analysis of the evidence and identify the most appropriate strategies to be live tested in Phase 2 of the evacuation operational research strand.

On the building design and human behaviour research strands, the supplier has currently conducted a literature review and devised methodologies for interviewing both staff at fire and rescue services and building occupants which focus on the behaviour of firefighters and occupants.

 

Recommendation

33.22b

That fire and rescue services develop policies for partial and total evacuation of high-rise residential buildings and training to support them.

Progress date:

April 2022

Progress

Status for fire and rescue services

In progress

Status for London Fire Brigade

Complete

The full implementation of this policy is dependent on the completion of recommendation 33.22a, that the government develop national guidelines for carrying out partial or total evacuations of high-rise residential buildings. The guidelines should include the means of protecting fire exit routes and procedures for evacuating persons who are unable to use the stairs in an emergency, or who may require assistance (such as disabled people, older people and young children), which is in progress.

In December 2019, the National Fire Chiefs Council published the reviewed guidance that provides information for fire and rescue services to change evacuation strategies and perform mass rescue, based on advice and information from fire and rescue service leads. 

In June 2021, the NFCC surveyed all fire and rescue services in England about their progress against recommendations. In response to recommendation 33.22b:

  • 14% of services (6 services) have completed the recommendation and have reported that they have reviewed their policies relating to evacuation, instigated changes, and trained personnel 
  • 45% of services (20 services) reported they have made the necessary policy changes but are still training its staff. Training will be completed before April 2022.

London Fire Brigade has reported that recommendation 33.22b has been completed.

The London Fire Brigade has developed an Evacuation and Rescue policy, which was published on 31st March 2021, alongside the revised Fire Survival Guidance policy. The Evacuation and Rescue policy has been shared with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) High Rise Firefighting working group to support sector wide learning.

Training on the new policy has been provided to all operational staff via computer-based training packages and face to face training for Watch and senior officers. This training is reinforced by guided learning exercises for station-based staff.

Recommendation

33.22c

That the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to draw up and keep under regular review evacuation plans, copies of which are to be provided in electronic and paper form to their local fire and rescue service and placed in an information box on the premises.

Progress date:

Autumn 2021

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government has consulted on proposals to require Responsible Persons (which includes Building Owners and Managers) to draw up and keep under regular review evacuation plans. We proposed that these are shared electronically with their local fire and rescue services, and not in paper form, with a paper copy being placed in the Premises Information Box (PIB). The Government also wanted to test whether this proposal should be extended to cover all multi-occupied residential buildings of 11m and above, which would go further than the Inquiry’s recommendation.

The Government’s response to the Fire Safety consultation was published on 17 March 2021 (link).

The Government intends to implement these recommendations through regulations made under Article 24 of the Fire Safety Order (FSO). The Government intends to lay these Regulations this autumn.

 

Recommendation

33.22d

That all high-rise residential buildings (both those already in existence and those built in the future) be equipped with facilities for use by the fire and rescue services enabling them to send an evacuation signal to the whole or a selected part of the building by means of sounders or similar devices.

Progress date:

TBC

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government agrees that these three measures identified by the Phase 1 report - wayfinding signage, evacuation alert systems and sprinklers - need additional consideration. In May 2020, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published amendments to Approved Document B to recommend sprinkler systems and consistent wayfinding signage in all new blocks of flats with storeys over 11 metres tall. Also, it was announced that the Government would work with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) on a series of tests of evacuation alert systems, with a view to including guidance in a later update to Approved Document B.

The NFCC has developed guidance and training packages to support the introduction and use of British Standard (BS) 8629 compliant Evacuation alert systems.

The London Fire Brigade has implemented training for relevant operational staff relating to evacuation alert systems and considers this action complete from a Brigade perspective.

 

Recommendation

33.22e

That the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to prepare personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) for all residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised (such as persons with reduced mobility or cognition).

Progress date:

PEEPs Consultation completed 19 July

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government originally consulted on proposals to implement these recommendations in the Fire Safety Consultation. However, the issue of personal emergency evacuation plans is complex, and it is important that we get this right and ensure that the views of residents and those most likely to be impacted by the proposals is heard. That is why we decided to seek further views on personal emergency evacuation plans in high-rise residential buildings through a new public consultation. 

The consultation opened on 8 June and closed on 19 July 2021. The consultation is available here (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) We are considering the responses to the consultation and will publish the outcome on GOV.UK.

Recommendation

33.22f

That the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to include up-to-date information about persons with reduced mobility and their associated personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) in the premises information box.

Progress date:

PEEPs Consultation completed 19 July

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government originally consulted on proposals to implement these recommendations in the Fire Safety Consultation. However, the issue of personal emergency evacuation plans is complex, and it is important that we get this right and ensure that the views of residents and those most likely to be impacted by the proposals is heard. That is why we decided to seek further views on personal emergency evacuation plans in high-rise residential buildings through a new public consultation. 

The consultation opened on 8 June and closed on 19 July 2021. The consultation is available here (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) We are considering the responses to the consultation and will publish the outcome on GOV.UK.

Recommendation

33.22g

That all fire and rescue services be equipped with smoke hoods to assist in the evacuation of occupants through smoke-filled exit routes.

Progress date:

December 2021

Responsible for completion:

  • Fire and Rescue Services

Progress

Status for fire and rescue services

In progress

Status for London Fire Brigade

Complete

In June 2021, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) surveyed all fire and rescue services in England about their progress against the recommendations. For this recommendation:

  • 66% of services (29 services) have acquired smoke hoods
  • 32% of services (14 services) have acquired smoke hoods. The training and role out of smoke hoods will be complete by the end of December 2021.
  • 2% of services (1 service) has made an agreement to a purchase arrangement to acquire smoke hoods allowing them to be used at emergencies by March 2022.

London Fire Brigade has reported that this recommendation is complete. The Brigade implemented smoke hoods on all its front-line appliances in November 2018.

To date, the Brigade state they have been used on numerous occasions, including at the recent residential high-rise fire at New Providence Wharf where they were used to rescue 22 of the 34 residents rescued by the Brigade.