Evacuate, decant or prohibit?

Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
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Over 9,000 residents evacuated so far!

The unprecedented tragedy of Grenfell Tower in June 2017 (rightly) led building owners, government and regulators to look closer at their buildings to see if they could be the next Grenfell.

The immediate, and sometimes misguided, building inspection programme has continued to this day. In fact, it has speeded up new legislation such as the Building Safety Act and Fire Safety (England) Regulations and tactical responses to well-publicised fires such as Beechmere, Worcester Park, Samuel Garside House and New Providence Wharf.

The sad and inevitable response to identifying serious safety issues in buildings can be the need for emergency evacuation. Different terms can be used to describe this process and the legal basis for the action but the most common are: Evacuate, Decant or Prohibit.

In April 2021 I was asked during a live radio interview how many buildings and residents had been subject to forced evacuation since Grenfell. I couldn’t answer this question on air and I couldn’t find a data set to answer the question afterwards. 

So, as a professional manager of building safety data and documentation, I started researching the subject based on news reporting. Since 2021 my team has crowd-sourced information on the subject for our own internal use.

Over the years we have used the data to maintain a #Prohibition thread on X (Twitter) and repeatedly warn the Government, LGA and other stakeholders to prepare for the human impact. All resulting from an increase in forced evacuations of residents as the volume of intrusive surveys uncovers a greater number of severe building defects.

Unfortunately, our prediction of increasing frequency of evacuations is borne out by 2023 registering a record number of evacuations since Grenfell. We estimate that 1,470 residents were forced to find alternative living accommodation in 2023 as a result of their homes being unsafe due to fire or structural safety issues. 

I am now sharing the latest version of our Post Grenfell Prohibition Tracker (which will be regularly updated) so that others can learn from and better contribute to the Building Safety Crisis conversation. If you know of a prohibition that is missing from the spreadsheet or would like to discuss our research in more detail, email us.