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A Better Way

A Better Way

How a new system from emergency control system innovator, LYFE, is adding weight to the charged argument of rethinking the contentious Incident Commanders’ ‘stay-put’ policy.

The nationally significant tragedy at Grenfell, and even the recent student accommodation fire in Bolton, have brought into sharp focus the “stay-put” policy for residents in burning tower blocks.

Today, many across the industry are re-evaluating whether the contentious ‘stay-put’ policy is fit for purpose. There are strong calls for it to be revised, even abandoned, calling into question the reliance on containment, compartmentalisation and a one-size-fits all approach. Others believe we ought to be working on practical solutions as to whether some of the challenges and complexities for incident commanders can be better addressed or solved.

One of those is LYFE, the manufacturers of the new EMTECT system, the most advanced emergency control system managing fire detection and ventilation control for large residential buildings.

LYFE are the first company to actively address what is considered the big weakness surrounding the ‘stay-put’ policy (or indeed evacuation plans in the event of fires) – to-hand information of exactly how a fire or smoke incident is changing real-time throughout the building.

LYFE Managing Director, Matthew Holness says, “regardless of whether the policy remains or is altered, EMTECT gives those responsible on the ground live insight into how a fire is behaving, and allows them to make the most informed decisions, hopefully the best decision, sooner.”

Since 2014, the guidance for when incident commanders at major fires should switch from ordering residents in burning high-rises to stay put in their flats to evacuating them, has not changed. This was highlighted by recent submissions from the lawyers representing survivors at the Grenfell inquiry, overseen by Sir Martin Moore-Bick. Points raised were “the failure to appreciate the futility of fire-fighting within the early window of opportunity for evacuation” and “the real-time appreciation by firefighters of various ranks (and staff in the control room) that stay-put advice was untenable”.

In light of the conclusions of the Grenfell inquiry set forth by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the government is considering those proposals and has announced a cross-departmental steering group to review stay-put policies and to assess what to do if evacuation is needed.

Matthew comments, “regardless of whether the policy stays or goes, we believe EMTECT meets the needs of incident commanders and reduces, if not mitigates, the risk of failing to evacuate buildings when it becomes critical to do so and as containment and compartmentalisation is immediately evidenced of failing. EMTECT goes further in providing the necessary information of how to prioritise the evacuation and allows incident commanders to react far quicker to changing circumstances”.

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