Howler releases whitepaper on changes to fire evacuation protocols in UK flats

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Howler unveils new guidance on simultaneous evacuation in residential buildings

Howler, a UK site fire safety expert group, has recently published a whitepaper titled “NFCC Guidance: Temporary Change to Simultaneous Evacuation in Flats.”

This document arrives as various councils across the UK are failing to meet fire safety standards, as reported by Howler.

Gary Askew, the Managing Director at Howler, highlighted the significance of the whitepaper: “Following the unprecedented national tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June 2017, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) issued guidance to property managers about steps to be taken where there were concerns around cladding issues.

“As time went by and more information became available, the guidance was updated and refined.

“Our whitepaper takes a good look at that guidance, examining the problem and the solutions available.”

The current state of evacuation policies and new approaches

The whitepaper discusses the persistence of the ‘stay-put’ policy in thousands of residential flats across the UK, a strategy where residents remain in their flats during a fire elsewhere in the building, feasible only with proper fire compartmentalisation according to the Building Regulations.

However, the Grenfell tragedy revealed the catastrophic failure of such compartmentalisation, prompting a reassessment of fire safety strategies.

Askew continued: “What occurred at Grenfell was that fire separation failed completely, and there is now an awareness amongst Fire Risk Assessors that there may be times when a stay-put is not adequate, and instead a building must be immediately, or ‘simultaneously’, evacuated in the event of a fire.”

Howler’s response and innovations in fire safety solutions

Responding to the NFCC’s guidelines, Howler has launched a new initiative called Howler Special Services.

This service is aimed at facilitating changes in the evacuation strategies of large residential buildings through the installation of radio-linked fire alarm systems.

These systems, which can be temporary until remedial works are completed or upgraded to permanent systems, are designed to replace the Waking Watch service.

“We’ve been installing fire safety solutions for over 30 years, and in response to the NFCC’s guidance, we’ve just launched Howler Special Services which has been designed to include the installation of radio-linked Fire Alarm systems specifically to facilitate the change in the evacuation strategy of large residential buildings,” Askew elaborated.

IFSJ Comment

The release of Howler’s whitepaper and the introduction of new specialised services reflect an adaptive response to evolving fire safety standards and legal requirements in the UK.

As the industry continues to deal with the implications of the Grenfell Tower disaster, initiatives like those by Howler are pivotal in ensuring that safety regulations are not only met but enhanced to prevent future tragedies.

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