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02 December 2022
It includes updates from the relevant government departments and assurances received from relevant public authorities - including the London Fire Brigade (LFB), National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and other emergency services - on their progress to address and implement the Phase 1 recommendations directed to them. This update, and the Government’s commitment to update it regularly, will bring considerable transparency to what is a vitally important area of work. In addition, a more accessible version of this update can also be found on the Fire England website: fireengland.uk.
This document does not reflect finalised Government policy.
Summary of thematic update
This is the fifth thematic update on the progress that has been made to implement the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report.
This update includes information on improvements to cross-cutting fire and rescue service communications, significantly improving collaboration in major and critical incidents – known as Operation Willow Beck. Launched as a direct result of Phase 1 recommendations, Operation Willow Beck was successfully used for the first time during the heatwaves in the summer of 2022.
A major part of the Government’s response to the recommendations is the commencement of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 which come into force in January 2023. Draft guidance is being developed with experts to support the recommendations and will be published ahead of the commencement date. Fire and Rescue Services are developing templates to support the information sharing duties in the Regulations, and specific guidance on fire door checks will be available in the early part of next year.
This update also includes information on the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans consultation and the further consultation on Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing Plus which closed in August 2022.
On 1 June 2022, the Government added a further update to Approved Document B so that new residential developments which are over 18 metres high will have to incorporate evacuation alert systems.
Fire and rescue services (FRSs) across England continue to work hard implementing the recommendations, prioritised according to local risk profiles. The NFCC conducted their bi-annual self-reported survey in August structured to ask if a policy or process has been updated, and to identify if a service has trained and implemented a change effectively. Survey results indicate 95% of services will have completed their service action plans to address the recommendations by March 2023 with 72% of services updated their policies and 67% have now involved all relevant staff in exercises involving evacuation of a high-rise residential building (HRRB).
The NFCC has produced the first suite of National Fire Control guidance as a result of the funding provided by the Home Office following the Grenfell Tower fire. The work began before the recommendations were made, following the fire as a result of early engagement with LFB and this has produced multiple benefits including the production of new guidance and technical solutions. This represents a significant improvement for the sector and speaks to the commitment of the NFCC and the Government to the fire control room.
This includes the introduction of new talk groups to allow fire services to share information live between fire control rooms to ensure the information provided by anyone handling a call wherever in the country the call may be received has reflects the current state of the fire, 98% of call rooms have now embedded these talk groups.
London Fire Brigade
LFB currently reports to the Home Office and the Mayor of London on the 40 recommendations that require some action by the Brigade, which include 29 recommendations directed specifically at LFB, all FRSs or emergency services, and 11 recommendations directed at partner agencies/other organisations which also require some action on LFB’s part.
At the time of writing LFB have completed 26 of the 29 recommendations directed specifically at LFB, all FRSs or emergency services, and three of the 11 recommendations directed at partner agencies/other organisations, making a total of 29 recommendations completed out of the overall 40.
Summary of progress against Inquiry recommendations
Of the Inquiry’s 46 recommendations, 31 have now been completed. These include:
Of the 14 recommendations directed to LFB, 13 have been completed. Additionally, the LFB are required to address a further nine recommendations which apply to all FRSs, of which they have completed eight. Out of the six recommendations to emergency services more broadly, LFB have completed five. Overall, the LFB have completed 26 out of 29 recommendations given to them.
According to the NFCC survey, one out of the nine recommendations that were given to all FRSs have been completed in their entirety and two FRSs have implemented all recommendations in full.
Out of the six recommendations to the emergency services, five have been completed.
One recommendation was given to the Metropolitan Police Service and London Ambulance service which has been completed. One recommendation was given to the National Police Air Service which has been completed.
Ten of the recommendations directed to Government have been completed with the successful laying, and passage through Parliamentary, of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022. These deliver important fire safety improvements by placing additional duties on responsible persons to, for example, make regular checks of fire doors and key fire-fighting equipment and share key fire safety information, including building plans, with Fire and Rescue Services.
Five recommendations relating to evacuation remain in progress. Three of these, relating to Evacuation Plans and to Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans, were addressed in the recent Emergency Evacuation Information Sharing Plus consultation: government is currently considering the responses to that consultation. Live testing data on building evacuation collected in a research project, currently being analysed, is intended to inform national guidelines for the FRS to evacuate high rise residential buildings, which is a fourth evacuation recommendation. The fifth evacuation recommendation on evacuation alert systems has been addressed for new building through amendment to the guidance to the building regulations (Approved Document B) and remains under consideration for existing buildings.