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London Fire Brigade backs multiple staircases in new residential tower blocks


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London Fire Brigade has voiced its support for proposals by the government to make it mandatory for new residential buildings above 30 metres to have a minimum of two staircases, to further improve building safety.

The Brigade has been challenging the practice of designing very tall buildings with only a single staircase for some time. Responding to the government’s consultation, we have reaffirmed our support for the proposed changes to building regulation guidance in order to increase the safety of buildings.

The consultation was run by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and closed on Friday March 17.

Making it safer for those inside

LFB pointed out that staircases are not the only consideration when it comes to fire safety in buildings, and existing buildings with a single staircase will still be safe if they have appropriate fire safety measures in working order.

The Brigade said that multiple staircases in tall buildings improves resilience and makes buildings safer: “There are many considerations that go into maintaining fire safety in buildings, including use of sprinklers, evacuation lifts, and fire doors. When designed, built, and maintained correctly, all of these features combine to minimise the risk of fires in buildings.

“A second staircase in a tall building can make it safer for those inside who may choose to, or need to, evacuate in the event of a fire. The additional staircase also provides more resilience for firefighters when responding to incidents as it provides an additional access route and evacuation route for residents.”

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety at London Fire Brigade Charlie Pugsley said: “Having pushed developers to include at least two staircases in tall residential buildings for some time, we support the government’s plans to bring in this clear limit for new buildings over 30 metres to further improve safety.  

“This introduction of a clear threshold will give clarity to developers, local authorities and communities and prevent the continued practice of increasingly tall buildings being designed and constructed with only a single staircase.

“We also welcome the action taken by the Mayor of London to ensure that the government’s proposed height threshold applies to new buildings being constructed in the capital.”

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