19 May 2022

Response to the government’s announcement about personal emergency evacuation plans in high-rise residential buildings

On 18 May, the government responded to its consultation on personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) in high-rise residential buildings. Despite consultation responses being overwhelmingly in favour of requiring PEEPs for every resident who is unable to self-evacuate, the government decided not to do so. The government raised concerns about the “practicality, proportionality and safety” of PEEPs, stating that they could introduce significant staffing and cost burdens on building owners and potentially delay the evacuation of other residents thereby putting them at risk.

Instead, the government has suggested Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing (EEIS) as an alternative and opened another consultation which will run through to 10 August. EEIS would have five steps:

  1. Defining the building’s evacuation strategy
  2. Identifying those who need support to evacuate
  3. Completing a Person-Centred Fire Risk Assessment for all people who need support to evacuate
  4. Sharing information with local Fire & Rescue Service
  5. The Fire & Rescue Service accessing and using this information in the event of a fire.

However, these would only apply to high-risk buildings where a ‘stay-put’ strategy is not deemed safe as an initial response. This means that many high-rise building owners would not have to complete steps two to five as set out above.

In response to the announcement, James Prestwich, CIH director of policy and external affairs, said:

“It is disappointing that almost five years after the Grenfell fire, we still have no additional requirements in place to ensure that residents with disabilities can safely evacuate in the event of a fire. 41 per cent of the people with disabilities who lived in Grenfell died in the fire; they were let down by a lack of planning for when the ‘stay put’ strategy failed. In its failure to require the implementation of PEEPs and its inadequate proposals for Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing, the government has not taken the steps required to protect disabled residents of high-rise buildings.

CIH responded in favour of PEEPs to the government’s initial consultation. We recognise that PEEPs would have resource implications for building owners but believe that appropriate solutions could be found to make them workable in practice. CIH urges the government to work with the sector to find ways to fund and implement effective mechanisms to keep disabled people safe.

We will be responding again to emphasise the flaws in the government’s proposals for EEIS, but another consultation risks people feeling unsafe in their own homes for longer. We need immediate action to provide assurance to vulnerable residents.

The most effective way of ensuring people are safe in their own homes, particularly those who cannot self-evacuate, is to invest in preventative measures which would stop fires starting and spreading in the first place. In addition to any action to support safe evacuation, we also call for increased investment in preventative measures such as effective compartmentation and automatic fire suppression systems like sprinklers.”

CIH will be preparing a response to the government’s consultation on Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing. Any members who wish to contribute views or evidence to support this response, please email policyandpractice@cih.org.