Most high rise managers failing fire fighters in South Yorkshire

high rise fire plans not being provided to fire fighters

Legislation was introduced after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017 which required some building managers to provide information to the fire service. However, few building managers have complied with the new requirements.

The new law came into effect in January 2023. It affects high rise residential buildings that are 18 metres or 59 feet in height or above, or at least seven storeys (including the ground floor), and which contain two or more domestic dwellings with common areas.

Building managers of such properties are required to submit electronically the floor and building plans and specific information regarding lifts, firefighting equipment, wayfinding signage and external wall systems, and other detailed information. In addition, a secure information box should be provided with the name and contact details of the Responsible Person and hard copies of the up to date building floor plans.

The Deputy Chief Fire Officer of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Tony Carlin, said the service needed to “know exactly where we are going with up to date plans of the building, and know if the lift works or if there are works going on in the building”.

Such information is essential for the process of tackling fires in high rise buildings, and makes fire fighting more effective, which keeps people safe. With several hundred buildings meeting the criteria in South Yorkshire, routine building checks are simply not sufficient for the fire service to keep up to date with potential structural changes.

However, Mr Carlin says that only 10% of building managers in South Yorkshire had submitted the required information to date.

In a thinly veiled warning to those not complying with the law, he said the service wanted to “go down the route of working with people” before offenders’ obvious resistance required action by enforcement officers, or for mechanisms to be enforced that would “ultimately lead to prosecutions”.