Find out what an evacuation alert system is and what you should do in the unlikely event of a fire.

According to the National Fire Chiefs Council, if there’s a fire in another part of a block of flats, you’re usually safer staying inside your home, unless the heat or smoke from the fire is affecting you. This is because flats are constructed as individual compartments which are separated from the rest of the block. This is known as ‘compartmentation’, with each flat’s walls, floors, ceilings and doors designed to provide appropriate protection.

There may, however, be times in high rise buildings when the emergency services need to evacuate residents from certain floors. They would only do this following a risk assessment during an ongoing incident, and it would typically be floors immediately above or below where the fire is. This would allow them to selectively evacuate specific areas to allow them to deal with a fire more effectively. The kind of scenario where it might be put into action is, for example, if a flat front door or a communal fire door has been wedged open and a fire can’t be completely contained but the evacuation of the entire building isn’t necessary.

The sounders are installed in the ceiling outside your front door and the sound they make is different to the alarm in your home. Although it’s important that you carry out regular checks on the alarms inside your home, we don’t carry out tests on the evacuation alert system.

This means that if you hear the alert, or if a fire breaks out in your home, you should:

  • If you discover a fire, hear a fire alarm, or your home is affected by heat or smoke, make sure everyone inside is aware and immediately leaves the flat
  • Never tackle a fire yourself - leave it to the fire and rescue service
  • Don’t waste time investigating what’s happened or rescuing valuables
  • If there’s smoke, keep low to the floor where the air is clearer
  • Close all doors inside your flat if it’s safe to do so
  • When everybody has evacuated your flat, make sure the flat entrance door is closed behind you
  • Use the escape plan that you’ve practised that leads you to the ground floor and out of the building. If you can get to the stairwell, this should be a safe route to get out.
  • When you get outside the building, call 999 ask for the Fire Brigade, giving the building address
  • When the Fire Brigade arrives, tell them where the fire is
  • Do not go back inside the building until the Fire Brigade has put the fire out and they tell you it is safe to return home.

What to do following a fire

  • Call us on 0300 123 3456 when you’re outside the building to let us know what’s happened so that we can attend as soon as possible and provide support where needed.
  • If the Fire Brigade doesn’t allow you back in, we or your local council will arrange temporary accommodation if you don’t have friends or family you can stay with.
  • You can find out here about what we can do to help after a fire.

Find out more about keeping safe

You can find lots of other useful fire safety advice and tips here.