The Case for Stay-Put Policies

Posted on 20 August 2020

Recently in our Instagram Stories we talked about ‘Stay-Put Policies’ for apartment blocks and asked whether you thought they were safe.

The overriding response was the majority think Stay-Put is unsafe. But is that correct?

Stay-put policies are designed to be safer than a normal simultaneous evacuation policy. However, more and more landlords are opting to go for simultaneous (one out, all out) in light of the events at Grenfell Tower.

The essence of the ‘Stay Put’ policy is that, in blocks of flats and apartments, residents not in an area directly impacted by the fire should stay inside their flat with doors and windows shut. This means the people affected by fire in a flat should escape, and others in the building remain where they are until the fire service attend. Sounds scary right?

Well, those who wish to leave are not legally beholden to stay put – not is it said that people evacuating a flat which is on fire can’t alert others.

Stay-put policies rely on a building’s passive fire protection to ensure a fire does not spread for a reasonable period until the fire service attend, so they can deal with the fire and evacuate persons in danger (or the whole building if needed). However, a fire risk assessment can consider a building inadequate for the ‘Stay Put’ method unless it can be proven that the construction standard is up to scratch. Simultaneous evacuation is the alternative which evacuates residents all at the same time, BUT this also requires a suitable alarm and detection system to inform everyone in the building.

So: Stay-put with self-contained fire alarms, smoke control and suitable fire doorsfire stopping and fire protection OR simultaneous evacuation with a suitable fire alarm that can warn everyone in the property (and wake people up is asleep), potentially causing chaos and some not evacuating any in the thought that it could be a false alarm?

(It should not be forgotten that simultaneous evacuation also requires suitable fire protection under fire safety law anyway!)

 

Why people choose to use the policy?

Last year, as part of Fire Door Safety Week, research was released which showed a lack of confidence in the ‘Stay Put’ method. 72% of respondents said they would not stay in their flat if a fire broke our in their building (even if their own flat was unaffected by the smoke fire directly)

On top of this, 39% said they didn’t have faith in the construction of their building to protect them from smoke and fire. There were also issues around tenants not knowing who the responsible person is for their building (only 38% knew it was the landlord)

It is a contentious subject and one that should be considered fully under the landlord’s fire risk assessment, to provide a solution that is compliant and safe for each particular building.

 

Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, if you need help or advice regarding fire safety – do not hesitate to contact us on 0330 133 2150 or email info@pyrofire.co.uk

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