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Evacuation

Theme 9

Evacuation

Last updated: 14 February 2022

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 to review means of escape provisions in blocks of flats including the use of the ‘stay put’ strategy and evacuation.

The steering group identified four strands to this work: an evidence review to assess 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, a rapid evidence review on evacuation from fire in high-rise residential buildings, 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 begun.

The supplier for the evacuation operational research strand has now developed the draft live testing plan. This will involve testing of several different scenarios to identify and present recommendations on the most appropriate evacuation strategies. This has been independently scrutinised by the Technical Steering Group and approved based on minor revisions being made. Live testing is now being taken forward.

On the building design and human behaviour research strands, the supplier has conducted a literature review and interviews were conducted to:

  1. Examine resident and FRS understanding of building evacuation guidance and the confidence they have in following that guidance in the event of a fire
  2. Understand future developments in high-rise residential buildings that may impact fire safety designs in the future.

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 2023

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 (NFCC) 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 March 2022, the NFCC surveyed all fire and rescue services (with the exception of the LFB) in England about their progress against the recommendations. In response to recommendation 33.22b:

  • 30% of services (13 services) have completed the recommendation and have reported that they have reviewed their policies relating to evacuation, instigated changes, and trained personnel. This represents a 16% increase from previous NFCC survey completed in July 2021.
  • 28% of services (12 services) have made the necessary policy changes but are still training its staff. Training will be completed by April 2022.
  • 42% of services (18 services) reported they are currently making progress to implement the necessary policy changes.

On performing training exercises relating to evacuation:

  • 28% of services (12 services) have trained and assessed all staff in evacuation policies since the Grenfell Tower fire and have conducted training exercises to embed learning from these policies.
  • 65% of services (28 services) are currently in progress to conduct training exercise to embed learning from evacuation policies
  • 7% of services (three services) have not planned to train staff in evacuation at this stage.

By April 2023, 91% of services (39 services) report they will have completed the necessary actions to address this recommendation.

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:

18 May 2022

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

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) 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 LFB 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:

18 May 2022

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government originally consulted on proposals to implement these recommendations in the Fire Safety Consultation, and in the PEEPs consultation which ran from 8 June to 19 July 2021. The Government’s response to that consultation can be found here (link). It shows that, despite widespread support for PEEPs and the proposals outlined, there remains significant issues with implementing them with regard to proportionality, practicality and safety.

We remain committed to implement proposals that will enhance the safety of residents in high rise residential buildings whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised in a way that is proportional, practical and safe. The Government has used the consultation responses to design an alternative package of initiatives. This package forms part of a new public consultation in which we will seek further views on the implementation of the PEEPs recommendations and also picks up the closely linked recommendation 33.22c on evacuation plans.

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:

18 May 2022

Responsible for completion:

  • Government

Progress

Status

In progress

The Government originally consulted on proposals to implement these recommendations in the Fire Safety Consultation, and in the PEEPs consultation which ran from 8 June to 19 July 2021. The Government’s response to that consultation can be found here (link). It shows that, despite widespread support for PEEPs and the proposals outlined, there remains significant issues with implementing them with regard to proportionality, practicality and safety.

We remain committed to implement proposals that will enhance the safety of residents in high rise residential buildings whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised in a way that is proportional, practical and safe. The Government has used the consultation responses to design an alternative package of initiatives. This package forms part of a new public consultation in which we will seek further views on the implementation of the PEEPs recommendations and also picks up the closely linked recommendation 33.22c on evacuation plans.

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.

Responsible for completion:

  • Fire and Rescue Services

Progress

Status for fire and rescue services

Complete

Status for London Fire Brigade

Complete

In March 2022, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) surveyed all fire and rescue services (with the exception of the LFB) in England about their progress against the recommendations.

For this recommendation, all 43 services who responded to the survey reported that they have acquired smoke hoods and they are operationally available, as well as staff are trained in how to use them.

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