• fire alarm
    September 4, 2023

    From towering offices to residential blocks, high-rise buildings are part of our modern world. Although they present a space-efficient solution, especially within densely populated areas and cities, there have been growing concerns surrounding their fire safety. The rapid spread of fire and issues with evacuation are both critical concerns. In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of fire safety in high-rise buildings and discuss what you need to know to ensure the safety of occupants and property.

    What are the Fire Safety Risks Associated with High-Rise Buildings? 

    There are various fire safety risks associated with high-rise buildings. These include rapid fire spread, difficulty in evacuation, vertical transportation challenges, smoke inhalation hazards, potential congestion in staircases, and the need to ensure effective communication during emergencies. The sheer height of these buildings can make firefighting and rescue operations more complex, highlighting the importance of robust fire protection systems, well-practised evacuation plans, and dedicated firefighter access routes.

    The fire safety risk associated with high-rise buildings was highlighted in 2017 when a devastating fire destroyed the West London high-rise residential block, Grenfell Tower, resulting in 72 deaths. 

    Why is Fire Safety Important in High-Rise Buildings? 

    Fire safety is crucial in high-rise buildings due to the increased risks posed by rapid fire spread, limited evacuation options, and challenges in reaching higher floors, and thus a higher risk of mortality. Effective fire safety measures, including advanced systems and well-practised evacuation plans, are essential to protect occupants’ lives, prevent property damage, and enable timely response by emergency services.

    What are the Key Aspects of Fire Safety in High-Rise Buildings? 

    Now we’ve outlined why fire safety is so important in high-rise buildings, we can dive into the key aspects of fire safety needed for high-rise buildings. 

    Building Design & Structure

    The foundation of fire safety in high-rise buildings starts with their design and construction. Building codes and regulations play a crucial role in dictating the standards that must be met to ensure fire safety. Materials used for construction should have appropriate fire resistance and insulation properties to prevent fire spread. Additionally, high-rises should be equipped with fire-resistant doors, walls, and floors, creating fire compartments that hinder the flames’ movement.

    Active Fire Detection & Suppression Systems

    High-rise buildings should be equipped with robust active fire detection and suppression systems, including: 

    • Fire Alarms: Early detection is crucial for high-rise fire safety. Advanced fire alarm systems can alert occupants and emergency services promptly, allowing for quicker response times.
    • Sprinkler Systems: Sprinklers are a first line of defence against fires. They detect heat and automatically release water, controlling or extinguishing flames before they spread.
    • Fire Extinguishers & Hose Reels: Easily accessible fire extinguishers and hose reels on each floor allow occupants to take immediate action to suppress small fires.

    fire safety hose


    Passive Fire Protection Methods 

    Passive fire protection measures are designed to contain fires, limit their spread, and protect escape routes. High-rise buildings need to have these in place for adequate fire safety.

    • Fire Doors & Windows: Fire-resistant doors and windows prevent fire from spreading between areas, buying time for evacuation and firefighting.
    • Fire Barriers & Compartmentalisation: Fire-resistant walls and floors create fire compartments, slowing down the fire’s progression and granting occupants more time to escape.

    Fire Escape Plans

    Every high-rise building should have a fire escape plan, which is easy to follow and practised regularly. Occupants should be familiar with escape routes, assembly points, and the location of fire safety equipment. Conducting evacuation drills helps ensure that everyone knows how to react in the event of a fire and also highlights any aspects that need evaluation. 

    Verticle Escape Challenges 

    In high-rise buildings, the only means for evacuation is vertically. This limits the amount of escape routes individuals can take which creates a great challenge as does the potential for staircases to become congested, hindering quick escape. 

    • Staircase Design: Staircases should therefore be wide enough to accommodate a large number of people and designed to resist smoke infiltration.
    • Fire-Protected Lifts: Special fire-protected elevators should be installed to be used by emergency responders and occupants with disabilities during evacuation.

    Smoke Management 

    Smoke is a significant hazard during fires, which if not managed correctly can hinder a safe and efficient evacuation. High-rise buildings should have effective smoke management systems that prevent smoke from spreading to evacuation routes and maintain visibility.

    Firefighter Access & Equipment

    Facilitating the work of firefighters and the emergency services is vital in high-rise fires. Firefighting water supply systems, access to hydrants, and dedicated firefighting elevators are crucial features to ensure efficient firefighting operations.

    The installation of Premises Information Plates (PIPs) is also considered essential, although not currently a legal requirement in the UK. PIPs are a digitally printed layout of a building, its design and fire safety facilities, and are fixed to the exterior of high-rise buildings. They enable the fire safety services to quickly understand the building’s layout, and assist them when arriving on the scene without needing to enter the building.

    To Conclude

    Ensuring fire safety in high-rise buildings therefore demands a combination of proactive design, advanced technology, and comprehensive planning. The potential for fire-related risks in tall structures is high and therefore it’s integral for adequate fire safety. By integrating active and passive fire protection systems, implementing effective evacuation plans, and addressing vertical evacuation challenges, we can significantly enhance the safety of those living and working in high-rise buildings from the devastating impact of fires.

    Fire Safety in High-Rise Buildings with BusinessWatch

    At BuisnessWatch, we’re experienced in providing the very best fire safety for high-rise buildings, both residential and commercial. BAFE accredited, we proudly install, maintain and monitor all aspects of fire safety systems, carry out professional fire risk assessments, fire consultancy appointments, as well as PIPs and escape plans. 

    If you need a fire safety provider that puts the safety and security of our customers first, speak to us today. Call us on 0330 094 7404 or email us online here