Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
May 21, 2022


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

FIREX 2022

An alternative solution for the challenges of single stairways in high-rise buildings: EVACSTAC

Showcased exclusively at FIREX International in May 2022, EVACSTAC is a prefabricated structural steel tower solution designed to provide an alternative evacuation route for residents in the event of a fire, as well as support firefighters in shortening response times to high-rise incidents. IFSEC Global gets the lowdown.

The inspiration behind the EVACSTAC escape and firefighting tower was Kevin Stewart, who has worked in structural steel and retrofit steel structure for over 50 years. After hearing about the devastating events of Grenfell, he spotted a clear problem in high-rise buildings (aside from the combustible cladding) – that many across the UK only have a single staircase.

A problem that was also be picked up on by Russ Timpson at the Tall Buildings Fire Safety Conference at FIREX in May, in the event of a fire, single staircases make escape and access extremely challenging, as smoke, heat and occupants fill the areas quickly. After advice from fire safety and industry experts, EVACSTAC was designed to provide an innovative solution to this problem. The towers are bespoke, being built to the exact requirements of each building they’re used in, while also housing a water supply at regulation pressures for hose access at every level. We find out more from the team.


“EVACSTAC is an innovative collaboration between the construction industry and fire-safety experts, to improve the safety of high-rise and high-risk buildings. As an affordable, prefabricated, retrofitted escape tower, providing that vital second staircase in single staircase buildings, it provides an alternative evacuation route for residents, ensuring the safe evacuation of all.

EVACSTAC-TallBuildings-22“It is manufactured off-site as made to measure, stackable structural steel modules (pods), with a customisable exterior in 9 or 11mm Premium A2 fireproof cladding, or fireproof glass options. The cladding is available in many different finishes to blend in with, and/or complement the existing building. The steel pods, including their smoke extracting access tunnels are transported to site and retrofitted to existing suitable buildings with minimal inconvenience to residents, and without the need for rehousing.

“We anticipate an order to delivery time within six months, and an installation time on-site of between 4-6 weeks”

How does EVACSTAC work?

“The EVACSTAC can be accessed from every floor of the existing building. The tower is accessed via a smoke extracting tunnel protected by two manual or automatic fire doors integrated into the buildings fire automation systems. The stairwell can also be fitted with a positive pressure ventilation system or passive louvres.

“Once inside the tower, residents are completely safe, and can descend the tower in safety, or if less able, can wait in safe refuge areas for rescue by emergency responders.  A lift can be incorporated into the design of the tower if required.”

What is EVACSTAC designed for?

“It is designed to ensure the safe evacuation of all residents from high-rise or high-risk buildings.

“In summary – it is designed to provide:

  • an alternative means of escape for those buildings with a single staircase
  • access to firefighters to shorten response times by providing immediate access to 50,000 litres of water at every level with standard fire service couplings
  • a lower cost method of retrofitting a sprinkler installation by avoiding the need to core drill a supply pipe vertically through the building
  • a safe refuge area for those less mobile to await rescue by emergency responders
  • a communication system to improve safety during an evacuation
  • the ability to add a lift if required
  • a versatile and immediate fire-safety solution for residents, leaseholders and building owners

What problems does EVACSTAC solve?

“Industry and fire experts have come together to make five key recommendations to improve the safety of high-risk buildings. These are:

  • The removal of combustible cladding and combustible insulation.
  • The greater use of sprinklers in these buildings.
  • Development of evacuation plans, including procedures for persons who are unable to use the stairs, in an emergency, and who may require assistance.
  • The requirement that all buildings need at least two staircases offering an alternate meane of escape.
  • Protection of fire exit routes

“EVACSTAC solves four of these key issues. It is a cheaper alternative for introducing a sprinkler system into buildings; it provides that vital second staircase, thereby allowing evacuation plans to be drawn up; It has safe refuge areas, and can incorporate a lift, for persons who require assistance, or can’t descend the stairs; and it protects fire exit routes.

“We believe it is an affordable solution for building owners, as the towers can be leased or purchased outright.

Is the product in use anywhere in the UK at present?

“We will be installing our first evacuation and firefighting tower at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh later this year.

“Installing EvacStac will allow the Fire Service College to train firefighters at the FSC in High Rise Firefighting tactics and help to guide policy in fighting fires where the system has been installed.”

What kind of feedback has EVACSTAC received from industry professionals so far?

“EVACSTAC has been designed after close consultation with fire safety experts, industry experts, as well as engineers and architects. We are also in consultation with insurance bodies to see how the installation of an EVACSTAC tower can help with the soaring insurance costs of high-risk buildings, thereby helping both homeowners and building owners.

“We have also recently won an Innovate UK Smart Grant from the government, and the feedback from our application was extremely encouraging.”


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