Care homes residents would have died in blaze if stay put policy

A care home’s ‘stay put’ policy would have caused elderly people to burn to death in a fire if the commander of the fire brigade hadn’t quickly overruled the policy, the force has said.Around 150 residents were evacuated from the Beechmere residential apartments in Crewe when the fire set the care home ablaze.The fire is not thought to have been arson, and investigators are looking into why the blaze spread so quickly.Beechmere residential homes had a “stay put” policy in place, which would have required residents to remain in their apartments and be evacuated on a phased basis.This was swiftly overridden by the incident commander and they were instead evacuated immediately after the fire took hold around 4.30pm last Thursday.Lee Shears, head of protection with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It’s clear that the fire wasn’t behaving in the way that we would expect, and I must praise his swift and decisive actions in ordering the immediate evacuation of residents.”His decision undoubtedly saved lives.””Stay put” policies have been criticised in the past, most notably during the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, when residents were initially advised to stay in their flats as the building burned. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A spokesperson for Avantage Cheshire Limited, which runs the complex, said the company was “devastated” by the fire and relieved everyone on site was safely evacuated.”We would like to thank the Cheshire Fire and Rescue service who have worked tirelessly throughout the night, and all the partner agencies that are working on a multi-agency response to support residents during this incredibly difficult time,” a statement reads.”The local community have been amazing, and have really come out to support residents who have lost so much with collection points set up for donations. It is just incredible.”At this moment our priority is to ensure that all residents are safe, comfortable and have somewhere to stay, then we will start looking at a longer term plan.”

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