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Fire chiefs back stay put policy

22 May 2018

THE NATIONAL Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has reiterated its supports for the principle of a ‘Stay Put’ strategy whenever possible.

It says that the Stay Put strategy has been proved over many years to be safe for residents of purpose-built blocks of flats. The NFCC believes that a Stay Put strategy is the correct advice in a purpose-built block of flats that is built and maintained correctly.

Guidance from fire and rescue services to evacuate specific buildings, has been informed by the NFCC’s national guidance on simultaneous evacuation. This guidance provides fire safety advice in respect of purpose-built blocks of flats where a ‘Stay Put’ policy was part of the original design, but is no longer considered appropriate owing to significant risk issues such as combustible external facades. The NFCC has produced guidance that supports a temporary change to a simultaneous evacuation strategy where such issues exist.

This has been the NFCC’s position since the government published the interim measures in June 2017 and fire and rescue services then carried out inspections to check that Responsible Persons had taken all reasonable steps to mitigate risk from fire to residents.

The NFCC also supports the Fire safety in Purpose Built Block of Flats’ guidance hosted on the Local Government Association's website and developed by a wide range of stakeholders. It feels that the guidance remains appropriate for all purpose-built blocks of flats. 

A simultaneous evacuation policy is only put in place following a comprehensive risk assessment, carried out by a competent person. National Fire Chiefs Council chair Roy Wilsher said: “If you leave your flat you could be rushing into choking smoke, the fire itself or firefighters using equipment to bring the fire under control. If the fire, heat or smoke is affecting you directly or you are in the communal areas of the building, get out, stay out and call 999. 

“The most important thing you can do is to know your plan in the event of a fire. Make sure you have working smoke alarms, test them regularly, and ask your landlord what strategy is in place in your building.”