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March 22, 2023

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Firefighters support proposals to insist on two staircases in high rise buildings – but want legislation to go further

Firefighters are supporting government proposals to increase the minimum requirements of staircases in high rise residential buildings – but want legislation to go further.

The London Fire Brigade has said it supports the proposals to make it mandatory for new residential buildings above 30 metres to have a minimum of two staircases.

However, the brigade wants to ensure the government properly considers whether a lower threshold would be more appropriate.

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Charlie Pugsley said: “Having pushed developers to include at least two staircases in tall residential buildings for some time, we support the government’s plans to bring in this clear limit for new buildings over 30 metres to further improve safety.

“This introduction of a clear threshold will give clarity to developers, local authorities and communities and prevent the continued practice of increasingly tall buildings being designed and constructed with only a single staircase.

“We also welcome the action taken by the Mayor of London to ensure that the government’s proposed height threshold applies to new buildings being constructed in the capital.”

A government consultation was run by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

It follows an announcement by the Mayor of London in February that all new planning applications for blocks of 30 metres and above in the capital will need to include a second staircase to be considered for approval.

The London Fire Brigade hopes this ‘decisive action’ will be replicated by the Government and rolled out across the rest of the country with a change to building regulation guidance in order to increase the safety of buildings.

It believes a second staircase in a tall building can make it safer as it provides an additional access route for firefighters when responding to incidents and an additional evacuation route for residents.

The London Fire Brigade also believes existing buildings with a single staircase will still be safe if they have appropriate fire safety measures in working order – but multiple staircases in tall buildings improves resilience and makes buildings safer.

In a bid to improve building safety, the brigade is also calling for a legal requirement for sprinklers in new care homes and encouraging the government to make it mandatory for sprinklers to be fitted into existing care homes.
The fire safety considerations in buildings include the use of sprinklers, evacuation lifts and fire doors and the brigade would like to see all of these features combined in the design, build, and maintenance of properties to minimise the risk of fires.

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