London Fire Brigade

Brigade reissues tower block safety advice

22 June 2017

We're stressing essential advice to help Londoners understand high rise safety following the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.

Since the fire on 14 June, we've been flooded with questions from members of the public about whether it is safe to live in a tower block. We've reissued practical guidance, supported by simple graphics and a short animation about high rise safety.

In addition, our crews will visit the premises identified with cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) to check the fire safety of the building and make sure that in the event of a fire, firefighting facilities are all in place. We will also programme more in-depth inspections as part of an on-going process.

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said:

“Grenfell Tower was a major fire on an unprecedented scale. London looked on in horror as firefighters worked tirelessly to save as many people as possible. I can fully understand why people who live in high rises have questions about their safety but I want to stress that thankfully, fires are rare. However, it’s vitally important to know your fire escape plan and where to turn if you have concerns.

“I would urge everyone to read our advice to help you plan and practise what to do in the event of a fire. If you live in a purpose built flat or maisonette your landlord must provide you with fire safety information, including an evacuation plan.“

Fire safety in purpose built flats and maisonettes is dependent upon good maintenance and housekeeping.  Residents should know the following:

• All flat front doors and doors on corridors and staircases must be ‘self closing’ fire doors.
• Fire doors must  not be held or wedged open as they are designed to stop the spread of fire.
• Things must not be stored in corridors or staircases as this can block escape routes and stop firefighters doing their job.
• Information about what to do in the event of a fire is understood and easily available
• You know who your landlord is and how to contact them*.

Our full advice to people who live in a purpose-built flat or maisonette is on our website but in summary we say:

• If the fire is actually inside your flat or maisonette, leave immediately and call 999.
• If there is a fire or smoke inside your flat or maisonette and your escape route is NOT clear, it may be safer to stay in your flat or maisonette until the fire brigade arrives.
• Find a safe room close the door and use soft materials to block any gaps to stop the smoke. Go to a window, shout “HELP, FIRE” and call 999.

• If there is a fire in another part of your building while you are inside your purpose-built flat or maisonette, and you're not affected by the fire stay put and call 999.
• You are usually safer staying put in your own flat or maisonette unless heat or smoke is affecting you.
• A self-contained, purpose-built flat or maisonette will typically give you between 30 and 60 minutes protection from fire.
 
Good advice for every home in London is:

• Fit smoke alarms in every room. Smoke alarms provide a vital early warning and can allow extra time to escape if there is a fire in your home.
• Always make sure you have an escape plan in place and that everyone in your home knows what to do in an emergency.

There is more detailed advice on the London Fire Brigade website here: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/staying-in-or-going-out.asp

London Fire Brigade Assistant Commissioner Daly added:

“It is important to be completely clear that we do not yet understand why the fire at Grenfell Tower spread in the way that it did and a full and thorough police led investigation is underway. These are really important points to understand for anyone who lives in a high rise property or those advising people living in a similar property.”

*your landlord may be your housing association, local borough council or a private landlord. Legally your landlord is responsible for fire safety.