‘Stay put’ no longer tenable in over 1,000 London tower blocks

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe has called for urgent change in the building industry as Brigade figures show the number of unsafe buildings continues to rise across the capital.

Data from the London Fire Brigade shows that 1,006 buildings now have an interim simultaneous evacuation strategy, as the buildings are not deemed safe enough for residents to stay inside in the event of a fire. More than 80 percent of these buildings are over 18 metres tall.

Cladding issues affect over 700 buildings in London, with the others suffering from other fire safety defects, the result of which is that many buildings now have waking watches in place.

London Fire Brigade does not provide any data on waking watches, and refers to national guidance that says that such measures should be temporary and replaced with the installation of a common alarm system pending remediation of the defects.

London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said:

“We’re calling on all building owners and managers to take urgent action to remediate their buildings if there are serious fire safety failings. It is completely unacceptable for residents to be burdened with the knowledge, and the fear that can bring, that their building may not be safe in the event of a fire.”

Commissioner Roe also highlighted the pressure being put on Fire Safety Inspection Officers, who have to inspect or re-inspect buildings that have changed their evacuation strategy. Front line fire crews are also carrying out regular familiarisation visits at these high-risk buildings. 

He said that while it is a draw on Brigade resources, it is vital work which must be maintained into the future until all these buildings have been remediated.