Simultaneous evacuation: updated guidance from the NFCC

11 August 2021

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has published an open letter to responsible people highlighting updated guidance to support a temporary change to simultaneous evacuation in blocks of flats and introducing key changes.

The updated guidance sets out measures to ensure the immediate safety of residents. This follows NFCC monitoring of fires in high rise residential buildings (including New Providence Wharf) where fire safety measures such as automatic ventilation systems did not worked as intended, affecting evacuation and emergency response arrangements.

Updates to the guidance

  • Advises consultation with residents and leaseholders to explore cost/benefit options.
  • Emphasises the need to consider the installation of common fire alarms where measures are now, or are likely, to be in place for the longer term.
  • Provides a clear distinction between waking watch and evacuation management as separate roles.
  • Emphasises that residents can carry out waking watches and/or evacuation management duties so long as they are appropriately trained.

Read the open letter to Responsible Persons.

Read the updated guidance on the NFCC’s website.

Consolidated advice note

The guidance refers the government’s January 2020 advice note. However, we understand from the government that they intend to withdraw the advice note, once the Publicly Available Standard on external wall assessment (PAS 9980) is published. The work for the new guidelines has already begun with the consultation on the ‘PAS 9980: fire risk appraisal and assessment of external wall construction and cladding’ earlier this year.

Read our response to the PAS 9980 consultation.

New Providence Wharf fire

The NFCC have also highlighted the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) report into the major fire at New Providence Wharf in May 2021, in which they found several failings including with the building’s smoke control system and cross-corridor fire doors.

Read the report on the LFB’s website.