High Rise Buildings: A Unique Emergency Response Challenge


High-rise buildings present several unique challenges not found in traditional low-rise buildings; longer egress times and distance, evacuation strategies, fire department accessibility, smoke movement and fire control.

The multiple floors of a high-rise building create the effect of requiring a great number of people to travel distances on stairs in order to evacuate the building. High-rise buildings have drawn significant attention in the fire safety world over the years. Here are some of the challenges faced in a high-rise building;

Fire Department Access

Even with modern aerial apparatus, fire services can still only reach six or seven floors of a building, so exterior rescue and firefighting operations are restricted to the lower floors. With fires above this level, firefighters must move vertically inside the building and fight the fire at the same time as occupants are descending the stairs.

Emergency Egress Systems

There is considerable potential for crowding and slow movement on exit stairs in high buildings because of the number of floors and because these stairs do not normally increase in width as they descend, Stair shafts are also one of the primary means by which smoke moves vertically

Effects Of Nature

Stack effect and winds have a major impact on the movement of smoke in high buildings, and tend to be worse the higher the building.

Complex Utility Services

High-rise buildings contain a complex series of pipes, ducts, cables and conduits running vertically. Fire protection water supplies must also be provided from either the top or bottom of the building – both with associated problems.

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