Simultaneous Evacuation

Guidance to support a temporary change to a simultaneous evacuation strategy in purpose-built blocks of flats

Following extensive consultation, the NFCC-led stakeholder group have updated the guidance on simultaneous evacuation and introduced key changes. 

This is the third edition of the technical guidance on arrangements to support a temporary change to the evacuation strategy. Such a change should only be considered when all other interim risk mitigation measures, as set out in the consolidated advice note (linked to at the bottom of the page), have been found to be insufficient in managing the risk.  Following the increasing number of buildings being identified with combustible cladding and without any known guidance on changing from stay put to simultaneous evacuation, in 2017 NFCC and other sector stakeholders produced guidance to avoid people being removed from their homes. 

The guidance sets out measures to support the immediate safety of residents, whilst fully accepting that the principle way to reduce risk is to urgently remediate the non-compliant external wall systems. 

This edition of the guidance is published in conjunction with ARMA; Fire Protection Association; Fire Industry Association; OPTIVO; and Institution of Fire Engineers.

The main edits are:
  • Advises consultation with residents and leaseholders to explore cost/benefit options
  • Emphasises the need to consider the installation of common fire alarms where measures are now, or are likely to be in place for the longer term. 
  • Provides a clear distinction between waking watch and evacuation management as separate roles.
  • Emphasises that residents can carry out waking watches and/or evacuation management duties so long as they are appropriately trained.
It also provides new definitions:
  • Short-term: the time required to formulate a longer-term remediation plan, as soon as practically possible and no longer than 12 months; and
  • Temporary: non-permanent measures implemented to mitigate an unacceptable risk in a building, as an interim measure, adopted for the safety of residents while works to rectify the identified fire safety failings are carried out.

These amendments underscore the stakeholder group and NFCC’s firm and long held expectation that building owners should move to install common fire alarms as quickly as possible to reduce or remove the dependence on waking watches. This is the clear expectation for buildings where remediation cannot be undertaken in the ‘short term’. This approach should, in almost all circumstances, reduce the financial burden on residents where they are funding the waking watches. 

This updated guidance means that all Responsible Persons for affected buildings should review their fire risk assessment to ensure the fire safety arrangements including the interim measures in place are appropriate, informed by this guidance and the advice of a competent person.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG) released on 20th January 2020, consolidated guidance, “Building safety advice for building owners, including fire doors” which has superseded the previous published Expert Panel (EP) Advice Notes 1 to 22.

Simultaneous Evacuation guidance

 Frequently Asked Questions


October 2020