London Fire Brigade reissues 'stay put' advice after Grenfell Tower blaze

The London Fire Brigade Image copyright DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS
Image caption London Fire Brigade has reissued fire safety advice for high rise flats after Grenfell Tower fire

London Fire Brigade (LFB) has reissued advice following the Grenfell blaze that tower block residents are "often safer staying put" in the event of a fire.

It is based on the assumption that fire can be contained but the policy has come under scrutiny after many Grenfell Tower residents became trapped.

Seventy nine people are feared to have died in the fire on 14 June.

LFB said it was not yet understood why the Grenfell fire spread so quickly.

Firefighters have been visiting premises with similar cladding to Grenfell Tower, after it was announced the cladding had "failed safety testing".

Image copyright Getty Images

Elfyn Edwards, a fire safety expert and former firefighter, told the BBC the stay put policy was designed to stop residents in flats unaffected by fire from unnecessarily evacuating the building and blocking the stairways.

Usually the way tower blocks are designed means a fire breaking out in one flat should not spread throughout the rest of a building.

Should you stay put?

LFB said: "Our guidance to 'Stay Put', unless your flat is being affected by fire or smoke, is based on the fire protection provided in the building and the walls and doors of each flat.

"This has been the case for many decades and, although fires in flats unfortunately occur throughout the country every day, the fire usually only affects the flat on fire.

"However, some smoke may enter corridors when the residents leave the flat on fire, or firefighters enter the flat to extinguish the fire.

"By staying put it will reduce the risk of you entering a smoky corridor unnecessarily and potentially being overcome by smoke. It will also allow our firefighters to tackle the fire safely and quickly without being delayed by many residents evacuating down the stairways."

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, said the stay put policy was not intended to deter people from leaving the building if they felt threatened.

In the case of Grenfell Tower, the speed at which the fire engulfed the block was unprecedented, Mr Edwards said.

Michael Paramasivan, who lived on the seventh floor of Grenfell Tower with his girlfriend and young daughter, said he ignored official advice to stay in your home.

"If we had stayed in that flat, we would've perished. My gut instinct told me just to get the girls out. I wrapped the little one up because of the smoke and I just got them out."

London mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio 4 there would now be questions asked of the wisdom of following the stay put advice.

London Fire Brigade advice for tower block tenants

  • 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.

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