Have you ever heard of a stay put policy in relation to fire? Well, living in an apartment block is very different to living in a house. If you had a fire in your house you’d get out prompt. The benefit of a house is you are never far from getting out to ground level, and at worst you’re one floor away.
In an apartment block, you are more than likely not at ground floor and often higher than the first floor, meaning escaping through a window is not really possible.
A modern apartment block is built to high fire standards. If an apartment has a fire it is designed to normally withhold fire for an hour (this is called compartmentalisation and we’ll have an article on this next week). This means the fire should not be able to spread to another apartment for 60 minutes. As the front door to an apartment is rated as 60 minutes protection, the fire can’t spread to the corridor either.
Did you see the news at Christmas about the fire in an apartment at Lighthouse apartments in Manchester? Scary picture, but can you see the apartment directly below is unaffected. The apartment above was damaged but by smoke only. This buildings compartmentalisation performed correctly, and the fire was maintained, in the main, to the one apartment on fire.
The fire brigade attended and could be seen walking around in the apartments above whilst the fire was ongoing below.
It is also fair to say that leaving an apartment means you have to walk along long corridors and possibly walk down the building into an area of the building that is on fire. So, moving around a building with a fire is dangerous.
The fire brigade also needs to fight the fire on arrival, and so dealing with a crowd of people outside causes them problems.
The idea is if there is a fire on the 6th floor the floors below should be fine to stay in their apartments as should the apartment above, within reason. The fire brigade will deal with the apartment that is on fire and decide who to evacuate.
I can hear the immediate response from anyone reading this that this is what the people in the Grenfell fire were told to do, and you are completely correct. Grenfell threw up a number of building construction issues which your property management company will now be addressing. The fire brigade is also signing off plans for buildings and reviewing current processes.
If you have a stay put policy now in place it will have been reviewed over the last six months, as will the building and the materials it’s made of. We are working closely with the fire services as all agents should be.
The first thing to do as soon as you get home is find out what your fire strategy is for your building. Should you ever then encounter a fire, you’ll have a full understanding of how to be safe. If leaving the building makes you feel safer, then do so. Only you can judge the immediate situation.
We thought this article would help explain something and give a little guidance.