'Stay put' policy or 'Communal fire alarm and simultaneous evacuation' policy

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    'Stay put' policy or 'Communal fire alarm and simultaneous evacuation' policy

    3. Sent to residents 10072017 (a).jpg2. Original notice board evacuation plan.jpg
    Good afternoon all,

    I originally posted this on the Safety forum on 13th July after correspondence with the Fire and Rescue Safety Officer, the Local Authority and the MP for the area had failed to get the correct notice displayed.

    In short the managing agents had changed the evacuation policy to a 'stay put' policy following a fire risk assessment. They had sent individual fire policy notices to all residents on 10th July stating it was a 'Stay put' policy whilst still displaying a 'Communal fire alarm and simultaneous evacuation' policy on the notice board.

    The Safety Officer carrying out an audit under the FSO 2005 had stated the 'Stay put' policy already existed and was displayed on the notice boards, however what was displayed was a 'Communal fire alarm and simultaneous evacuation' policy.

    After numerous emails it was established that the new notices would not be placed on the notice boards until the managing agent carried out his/her monthly development inspection.
    This was carried out last Friday and we now have both policies displayed in the foyer. Along with both of the above we have an old fire action sign stating to sound the alarm, leave building by nearest available exit and report to assembly point and we also have a new 'Stay put' policy for use in high rise issued by the Fire and Rescue Service.

    I am again currently in correspondence with the same individuals attempting to have the correct policy only displayed, to remove any confusion that residents may have.

    Good evening all,

    I have a question regarding fire safety in converted flats. The building is a Grade II Listed Building converted into flats around 2005.

    A communal fire detection and alarm system is incorporated with a ZP3 Fire Control Panel situated in the foyer of one block, however covers 4 blocks and 5 townhouses. In my flat there is a ZP730-2P addressable optical smoke detector fitted which is linked to the Fire Control Panel in the foyer. There are 'break glass' call points fitted and foam fire extinguishers on each level and AOV fitted to protect the stairwell. There are further detectors fitted in the communal areas and the uppermost positioned electrical meter cupboards. They are only in the uppermost service cupboards because they were never compartmentalised until last year after the visit of the Fire Safety Officer. After this visit the service cupboards were sealed at each level and new locks and keys issued to all leaseholders/residents. A fire evacuation plan was also placed on the notice boards;

    If Fire Breaks Out In Your Home:
    • Leave the room where the fire is straight away, then close the door.
    • Tell everyone in your home and get them to leave. Close the front door of your flat behind you.
    • Do not stay behind to put the fire out.
    • Raise the alarm by using a ‘break glass’ call point.
    • Call the fire service.
    • Wait outside, away from the building.
    If You See Or Hear Of A Fire In Another Part Of The Building:
    • The evacuation plan for this building requires all residents to proceed to the assembly point when the communal fire detection and alarm system sounds.
    • You must also leave IMMEDIATELY if smoke or heat affects your home, or if you are told to do so by the fire service.
    • If you are in any doubt, get out.
    To Call The Fire Service:
    • Dial 999 or 112.
    • When the operator answers, give your telephone number and ask for FIRE.
    • When the fire service reply give the address where the fire is.
    • Do not end the call until the fire service has repeated the address correctly.

    The managing agents have encountered trouble reference a suitable assembly point due to the enclosed car parking around the flats and being 5 storeys tall.
    The Fire Safety Officer met with the managing agents two weeks ago to carry out an FSO audit and found them to be compliant or broadly complaint in all areas except for the storage of combustible items under the main escape route stairs. This was blamed on the residents because the managing agents claimed they had been clear on their previous monthly check.

    The managing agents stated they will be operating a 'stay put' policy and the Fire Safety Officer stated the policy already exists and is displayed on the notice boards but for clarification would be re-written and updated and every individual resident would receive their own copy. I received mine on Monday 10th which states it is now a 'stay put' policy but the one on the notice board remains as above.
    How can they display one policy and issue another policy to all residents? Another question would be why change the policy anyway?


      If I was there, I would copy the fire evacuation plan you typed, and get it printed on your printer for when the stupid M.A. removes them, and put them up again.

      Again, if I was there, I would write to the M.A. and state they have no authority to countermand the recognised procedures if a fire breaks out. And you and the residents will continue to observe the recognised proceedures that have been in place prior to the 10th of July
      THEY are not the Fire brigade, they are not the Government Health and Safety department.
      State they have no authorisation to play with the lives of the residents. Nor to tell residents to stay put and burn to death -- ( Yes, say it )

      I, if it were me, would send a copy of your letter to every flat, and state that the only reason they changed their minds was only because of their inability to say, get out and stand in a safe place.
      "The managing agents have encountered trouble reference a suitable assembly point" so to fix that problem, they say stay put, and that fixes the problem with the "no suitable assembly point"
      THAT'S why they tell you to stay put. and that's the ONLY reason they change the rules, but they cannot change recognised procedures as stipulated by the fire brigade / Health and safety.

      Get typing now.


        Although there is confusion here, with the safety officer claiming the existing notices are stay put one, when they clearly follow the recommended format for simultaneous evacuation, simultaneous evacuation is a last resort policy for residential accommodation, as it really needs fire wardens and for people to sign in and out.

        The main reason for the assembly point is to be able to do a roll call, but if you don't know who is at home, or even more so, if you don't know who actually lives in the flats, a roll call is pretty pointless. That leaves a situation where the fire brigade have to assume that stay put was implemented.

        Also simultaneous evacuation should really be associated with half yearly fire drills.

        If the building is properly compartmentalised, stay put is always going to be preferred. Even if not, measures like sprinklers, to compensate for the lack of compartmentalisation, should produce a better outcome than simultaneous evacuation.


          I think we all know how well a 'stay put' policy works now, don't we?

          To suggest people stay in a burning building, so that the fire brigade know where you are, seems a little perverse to me. If the fire brigade are so wedded to their 'elf & safety' procedures, let them crack on. I'd still be leaving.


            valid points for and against have been made, but my extra ( rant ) is posted; tentatively; below.

            the safety officer claiming the existing notices are to stay put.

            There will not be a safety officer in a Managing agents office. It will be normal people being unable to suggest a meeting point, so they dismiss the fire evacuation to alleviate the inability to state "assemble outside, on the pavement to prevent you being burned alive !

            it really needs fire wardens and for people to sign in and out.
            So you employ someone to stand around for a few years, paid for in case the alarm goes off, in order to evacuate the building. That is not going to be a financial burden leaseholders will condone.
            No leaseholders or sub-tenants will ever sign in and out even if fire wardens are paid to sit on a chair at the front door for years in case there is a fire.

            The main reason for the assembly point is to be able to do a roll call,
            You will never know who lives in flats. Managing agents look after the leaseholders, not the sub-tenants,

            the fire brigade have to assume that stay put was implemented.
            But it clearly states on the notice board, 3 days after the M.A.'s letter, to evacuate.

            Residents are not going to hear alarm bells and stay put, no matter what you put on the notice board.

            How many people died in Grenfell Tower, London, by staying put ?
            The council ( who ran the block ) told residents to stay put while a fire was on going.

            I rest my case.


              Originally posted by ram View Post
              The main reason for the assembly point is to be able to do a roll call,
              You will never know who lives in flats. Managing agents look after the leaseholders, not the sub-tenants,

              the fire brigade have to assume that stay put was implemented.
              But it clearly states on the notice board, 3 days after the M.A.'s letter, to evacuate.

              Residents are not going to hear alarm bells and stay put, no matter what you put on the notice board.
              The reason the fire brigade have to assume stay put is because they cannot be sure that there are not people left in the building. In a commercial environment, where simultaneous evacuation is the norm, or even a hotel, or building with a concierge, they don't need to risk their lives on an off chance. If only property is at risk, safety of the firemen will be paramount.

              The inability to do a sensible headcount reinforces this problem, and makes an assembly point fairly pointless. Basically all the arguments saying that headcounts are not possible are arguments saying that simultaneous evacuation is not the right policy and you need to design, and maintain, the building for stay put.

              After a few false alarms ignoring the fire alarm is exactly what residents will do (our managers installed (cheap battery) ones in the stairwell, after a fire in the 1990s, and I was about the only person who consistently took notice of them; they were removed on the advice of a fire risk consultant) . Even in commercial property this is a risk. I believe a lot more lives would have been saved on 7/7 if people had not ignored the alarms. The assessor pointed out that the likely effect of someone acting on the alarm in a real fire would be that they breathed in a lung full of hot smoke, on opening the door. That would be especially true at night, when they were slow to wake up. It would appear that quite a few people succumbed to smoke inhalation on the stairs of Grenfell. If that was true, it wasn't suitable for a simultaneous evacuation policy, either.


                One key point. You cannot switch to a stay put policy just because there are problems implementing a simultaneous evacuation one. The building must be designed and maintained to support stay put. If the building is not so designed, and simultaneous evacuation is not safe, you are in a Taplow Tower situation, and you must empty the building until one of the policies can be safely implemented.

                My arguments for stay put are that, if the building will support it, for a general needs residential building, it is the only sensible policy.

                What particularly concerns me in this case is that an expensive alarm system has been installed and there was a simultaneous evacuation policy. That suggests to me that either the freeholder was wrongly advised, in the first place, that the building was not safe enough for stay put, or that building really is not compatible with stay put. In the first case, stay put,and disabling the alarm system, is the easiest and cheapest solution to manage (you just have to stop people breaching building regulations, particularly for front doors). In the second case, stay put is not an option.

                If you do expect people to self evacuate in a building designed for stay put, you should advise them to test the door for heat with the back of their hand, and to open it very slightly, or use a peep-hole, to check for smoke, before attempting to open it.


                  Speaking from a position of some significant authority on this, a 5 storey building does not require a stay put policy unless its the strangest flat conversion 5 storey building I've ever seen. There are very specific reasons for stay put policies and most of the reasons listed above are not them. Passive and active fire protection are circumstances that could allow for stay put but they are not reasons to implement them. The reason for a stay put policy is simple - if the time it would take to evacuate higher floors is longer than it would take for the fire service to respond and enter the building, and if the building fire protection supports it, then a stay put policy is the approach. If not, it isnt. Nothing to do with roll calls.

                  A stay put policy is NEVER a sensible policy unless it is absolutely required. It certainly shouldnt be a default option.

                  The managing agent on this is really leaving themselves wide open, and unfortunately the advice on this thread is (whilst well meaning) way off the mark.
                  Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.


                    Wow, whilst not wanting to upset people, some of the comments show the complete lack of understanding of fire safety.

                    The property was converted around 2005. This means it should have been designed to support stay-put. Any decent fire risk assessor would know this. If in doubt get in the loft space and look for fire separation around the flats up to roof height. However, be wary of the BCOs who think a 1 hour fire resisting cap meets the functional requirements of BR - It doesn't. Look above false ceilings and in cupboards. No holes and no pink foam.

                    The unusual but not that unusual part is the provision of a full fire warning system.

                    The reason it it isn't that unusual is that prior to the fire safety order being introduced in 2006, the fire service weren't consulted on flats under building regulations so BCOs put fire alarms systems in out of ignorance. The building should have been designed to have BS5839:Part 6 LD3 system in each flat. A system that evacuates 4 blocks and 5 townhouses must be a nightmare to manage. Unless it is super-intelligent with a complex cause and effect matrix.

                    The evacuation point should be a safe distance away from the building - Safe distance is at least twice the height of the building measured horizontally. It's defined in ADB if in doubt.

                    Fire extinguishers - Get rid of them, they're not required.

                    As for combustibles in communal areas, unfortunately it happens all the time, I see it on a daily basis, fortunately a sensible FSO audited the property and understands the difficulties in managing these areas. When I assess I photograph every landing, every corridor and under every stair to show what it was like when I carried out the FRA.

                    You don't need to do a roll call or have a signing in book - Not practical.

                    How many any people on here will blame a stay put policy for the number of deaths at Grenfell Tower? The fire spread and the deaths were down to cladding. The cladding was down to the lack of independence within the building regulation process. Oh sorry the last paragraph is my opinion based on 15 year of being a fire safety officer arguing with BCOs - It can make you cynical.


                      Good afternoon,

                      Firstly thank you for the replies and information offered. Due to the varied and differing opinions on the 'stay put' policy I have not replied before.

                      'Look above false ceilings and in cupboards. No holes and no pink foam.'

                      In my OP I stated that until last year in April service cupboards were not kept shut or locked and were not sealed between floors. After the Fire Safety Officer visited and carried out an inspection these service cupboards were then sealed using ply board and pink foam. New locks were fitted and keys issued to leaseholders/tenants.

                      'There will not be a safety officer in a Managing agents office.'

                      Another point I should clear up, this is the Fire Safety Officer from the Fire and Rescue service. Who has issued the report stating that the managing agent will be operating a stay put policy. Further stating "All evacuation notices on the noticeboards will be updated and each resident will receive notification of the policy and what to do in the event of fire so that everyone is aware and so there is no confusion. The policy does already exist and is displayed upon the notice boards but for clarification it will be re-written and updated and every individual resident will receive their own copy. You will be receiving these in due course."

                      'But it clearly states on the notice board, 3 days after the M.A.'s letter, to evacuate.'

                      It is now 4 days after and the response from the managing agent is that the notice boards will not be correctly updated until the time of the monthly site visit.

                      'The building should have been designed to have BS5839:Part 6 LD3 system in each flat.'

                      Another point raised with the Fire Safety Officer who stated; "The detection within the flat and any escape windows provided are your responsibility and are not communal."

                      However on checking mine, due to no indication given as to if it is working or not, it placed a fault on the fire control panel within the foyer. It turns out that the detectors' led only flashes to indicate the unit is in alarm.

                      Why therefore is there no obligation on the managing agent to inform the leaseholders/tenants that the detector within the flats has been checked and is in a serviceable state?
                      There is also another type of smoke alarm fitted, mains wired with battery back up, and this can be tested by the occupant.





                        Blimey, your building appears to have a real mishmash of standards.

                        My first point is that anything built or converted under 1991 version of Approved Document B (this came into force in June 1992) should have the appropriate separation and shouldn't need a communal alarm or full evacuation and should be suitable for stay-put.

                        I said the provision of alarm alarm is unusual, has this been installed out of ignorance or to compensate for lack of separation. By the fire officer's comments " the detection in the flat is your responsibility". It is out of ignorance. I say this because if the alarm was provided to compensate, then the he can enforce maintenance, as the alarm is provided for the safety of others not just you.

                        The stand alone mains powered detectors are there for your safety.

                        It isn't necessary to fire stop between floors in service risers (cupboards). They can have a 60minute fire resistant wall around them and FD30 doors. They are treated as a protected shaft. - Think of a staircase, that doesn't have fire stopping between floors.

                        If if you need any specific advice PM me, I would be happy to telephone you to explain. It's sometimes difficult to post short specific advice to complex issues.

                        Last edited by Fire Risk Assessor; 15-07-2017, 18:49 PM.


                          Better to evacuate because stay putters will die from the toxic smoke fumes .


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