Consultation on high rise evacuation plans fraught with difficulty

Responding to two of the Grenfell Inquiry recommendations, the government is consulting on plans for personal emergency evacuation plans – or PEEPs - that rely heavily on self identification of need and a safe place to store sensitive personal data.

The consultation on PEEPs launched by the Home Office on 8 June contains just four proposals to ensure that those who need assistance to escape from high rise buildings in the event of a fire are known to the fire and rescue service.

This is part of the government’s response to the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 Report. Sir Martin Moore-Bick said that those responsible for high rise residential buildings should by law have to prepare PEEPs ‘for all residents whose ability to self-evacuate may be compromised’ and make them available in a premises information box.

This England-only consultation contains proposals that require the person responsible for fire safety in a high rise building over 18 metres tall to discuss fire safety and evacuation needs with residents and use a new template to work out personalised escape plans.

The PEEP contains detail about an individual’s needs, but there is no compulsion for a resident to share sensitive personal data. The consultation asks for views on how to keep a PEEP up to date, one of the thornier issues for the government to grapple with to meet this recommendation. There are also considerable data protection issues to be considered by the responsible person to comply with existing data protection laws.

There are no plans for the detailed PEEP to be given to fire and rescue services at an incident. The consultation contains a proposal for a resident information template that contains high level information about individual flats where a resident may struggle to evacuate. The completed template would then be placed in the premises information box.

There is no discussion in the consultation about the specification or location of the box. The government acknowledges that providing data about the status of residents in a premises information box in a public space may be problematic and is asking for views on how it can be kept safe.

New legislation is required and PEEPs will, subject to the outcome of the consultation, be implemented later this year using regulations in the Fire Safety Order.

The consultation closes on 19 July.