New guidance on evacuating high-rise buildings has been launched on the 1st May 2018 by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), providing essential advice for building owners, their professional advisers and Fire & Rescue Services.

It focuses on introducing a ‘simultaneous evacuation’ strategy in purpose-built blocks of flats which is where all parts of a building are evacuated at one time, in the event of a fire. The guidance applies to premises in England and Wales.

This guidance replaces NFCC’s Waking Watch/Common Fire Alarm guidance, published in early October 2017. NFCC made a commitment to review this guidance with external stakeholders to ensure it was still fit for purpose. As a result, it has undergone some amends, based on feedback to make it clearer and more user-friendly.

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

It also 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. In addition, the cladding will have failed the large-scale tests commissioned by the government and carried out by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

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

For more information and to download the guidance click here