London Fire Brigade

Fire chiefs employ pupil power to ensure high rise fire safety message hits home

16 July 2014

Fire chiefs are calling on the capital’s teenagers to help pass on vital life saving fire safety advice to their families as part of its campaign to ensure people living in high rise flats know what to do in the event of a fire.

London Fire Brigade’s specialist Education Team - which visits around 100,000 children each year - is to start using a specially commissioned film animation as part of its regular fire safety presentation to Year 8 secondary pupils, and  it wants students to take the lessons they learn home so their families get the message as well.

The animation will be premiered on Wednesday (16 July) at the George Mitchell School in Leyton ahead of the six week school summer holidays before being adopted into the team’s regular presentations next year. The Know the Plan campaign was launched in March after a YouGov poll found that more than half (60%) – or around 760,000 of  London’s high rise households – don’t have a fire escape plan. Not only that, but 50% said they would get out of their flat even if the fire was somewhere else in the block, which can be the most dangerous thing to do.

Flats and maisonettes are built to give you some protection from fire – a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60. If there is a fire elsewhere in the block but not inside your flat you're usually safer staying in your flat unless heat or smoke is affecting you. 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 in another part of the building.

London Fire Brigade’s Education Development Manager Sara Perez  said:

“Our Education Team have been going into the classroom to talk directly to students for the last 13 years. It is a highly effective way of getting potentially life-saving fire safety information across to, not only the pupils themselves, but also to their friends, families and carers who we encourage them to share it with when they get home.

“Living in a flat is not more dangerous than living in a house, but it’s important to know that your fire plan should be different and our brand new video animation explains that  to the students in a very clear way.”

The Know the Plan campaign and website www.knowtheplan.co.uk , which  also includes the film animation, aims to tackle this confusion head on by ensuring people living in high rise and purpose built blocks of flats have a clear understanding of what to do in a fire and get the advice and guidance they need. The campaign also urges landlords and housing providers to act on their fire safety responsibilities.

The London Fire Brigade Education Team has been carrying out  fire safety education workshops for primary school children in Years 2 and 5 since 2001and this year for the first time also began visiting secondary school students in Year 8.  Secondary schools  interested in arranging a visit from the London Fire Brigade Education Team can fill in an on-line booking form on the Brigade’s website.

Notes to editors:

• The YouGov polling was carried out twice on the week commencing 4 November 2013 using a representative sample of 2,899 Londoners – 24% of which lived in purpose built block of flats giving a sample of 715 people for subsequent questions. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all London adults (aged 18+).

• The 2011 census recorded 3,387,255 homes in London of which 1,274,526 were flats/maisonettes in purpose built blocks. The YouGov survey commissioned by London Fire Brigade showed just 40% (509,810) of those households have an escape plan.
• In 2009 six people died in a fire at the Lakanal House tower block in Camberwell, Southwark.

• Following the inquest into the deaths of the six people, the Coroner made a number of recommendations to London Fire Brigade, Southwark Council and the Department for Communities and Local Government to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. Five of the recommendations were made to the Brigade, four of which related to operational procedures and one to increasing public awareness of fire safety.

• The George Mitchell School is on, 38 Burchell Road, Leyton, E10 5AZ