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‘Stay put’ still the best advice for high-rise residents

Controversial policy remains in place after Grenfell

19 October, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Senior fire safety officer Neil Guyett

FIREFIGHTERS still recommend the use of the controversial “stay-put” policy for residents in the borough’s high-rise buildings during a fire, it was made clear this week.

About 40 firefighters took part in a training exercise at the Harvist estate in Holloway on Monday afternoon which saw council workers and police officers reacting to a simulated fire on the 13th floor of one of the blocks.

Islington firefighters were joined by colleagues from Tottenham during the routine exercise. A drone was flown above the towers.

A similar drone was used by firefighters during the blaze at Highbury Leisure Centre last month to inspect damage and collect information about the fire.

Neil Guyett, a senior fire safety officer based at the London Fire Brigade headquarters in Southwark, told the Tribune after Monday’s exercise in Holloway: “During a fire we recommend residents stay put in their flats.”

But if the fire is in your home, the advice is to get out and call 999 immediately, he added.

The “stay-put” policy has come under scrutiny in recent months during the Grenfell Tower inquiry, which is looking into the deaths of 72 people at a west London block in June last year.

The inquiry, which started in May, has heard that the “stay put” policy was abandoned during the rescue operation when the fire rapidly and unexpectedly spread, mostly on the outside of the building.

Mr Guyett said the policy may be reviewed after the inquiry ends.

The four 18-storey blocks in Hornsey Road were built in 1967.

There were fears last year that cladding on the buildings may contain aluminium composite material – the same material that was found in the Grenfell Tower clad­ding – but tests by Islington Council confirmed otherwise.

A fire at the Harvist estate shortly after the Grenfell Tower blaze last year saw around 200 residents scrambling to get out of the block before the fire brigade arrived.

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