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August 4, 2020

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Emergency evacuations

BAFE and NSI call for responses to Emergency Evacuation Scheme public consultation

Following development throughout 2020, BAFE has announced its new Emergency Evacuation Scheme, which is available to view and comment on for a four-week consultation period by industry.

BAFE SP207 covers the design installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems. These systems are used by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats (including single-storey flats and maisonettes) across the UK. The Scheme has been developed with the support and cooperation of the National Security Inspectorate (NSI), Gerda and other industry parties.

Evacuation alert systems for the exclusive use of fire and rescue services are designed to alert residents when there is a need to evacuate their specific flat or group of flats in the event of a fire or other emergency anywhere in the building. The Scheme has been developed in response to a recommendation from the Grenfell Tower Phase 1 Inquiry report, whereby new or existing blocks of flats, with one or more storeys located at a height of more than 18m above ground level, should be provided with facilities for use by the fire and rescue service to initiate an evacuation alert signal within flats, thus saving time and negating the need to deploy fire‑fighters to personally alert occupants.

The new BAFE Scheme observes best practice and the recent standard developed by BSI, BS 8629 (Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats), published in November 2019.

BAFE has made the BAFE SP207 Evacuation Alert Systems Scheme Document available to view and has launched a four-week consultation period requesting comment from the fire safety industry, Fire and Rescue Services and the wider safety industry for comment.

Find out more about how to comment and download the BAFE SP207 Scheme Document.

BSI has commented the BS 8629 Standard “exists to help ensure that systems are fit for purpose and to encourage uniformity. If systems look and function the same way in every building, firefighters won’t waste any time understanding how they work.”

In May 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a document: Government Response: Sprinklers and Other Fire Safety Measures in New High-Rise Blocks of Flats. In this it revealed that 92% of respondents believe that Approved Document B “should include a requirement for an emergency evacuation [alert] system, which could support fire and rescue services operational response by alerting residents if they need to escape.”

Government responded that “there was also strong support in the consultation responses for the inclusion of guidance on an evacuation alert system for high-rise blocks of flats, although many respondents also raised concerns about the use of this new technology.”

BAFE highlights that it was always planning to develop a Scheme to support the industry with a robust method of providing evidence of competency to work with these systems. The organisation strongly believes these systems in more buildings, when implemented correctly, will aid Fire and Rescue Services across the UK in saving lives.

NSI was involved in the development of the new Scheme and upon official publication later this year, will be offering Third Party Certification to fire safety providers on a ‘modular’ basis, enabling companies to achieve certification for the scope(s) of work in which they are involved i.e. design, installation, commissioning and/or maintenance.

The scheme will adopt the “MOT” concept whereby an NSI/BAFE “Certificate of Compliance” will be issued for a newly installed system and also on an ongoing basis following a maintenance visit (every six months), serving as evidence to enforcing authorities and insurers, systems are being maintained.

The BAFE SP207 Evacuation Alert Systems Scheme consultation runs from 03/08/2020 to 31/08/2020 (closing at 11:45pm). Upon official publication, Third Party Certification for this Scheme will be available via NSI. Please contact NSI directly to register your interest via [email protected]

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