High-Rise Safety

Fully sprinklered high-rise buildings have an excellent life safety record. The fire protection features of high-rise buildings, required by code, are part of the reason these buildings are so safe. The other part of the life safety equation for high-rise buildings, are the people who operate and the people who live and work in these buildings.

The building staff must inspect and maintain the fire protection equipment. Equipment should be clearly marked, well-maintained and tested frequently. This equipment would include:
  • Emergency power systems
  • Fire alarms
  • Fire department connections
  • Public address systems
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Standpipe systems
Exits, including the corridors and aisles leading to them, must be free and clear of obstruction.

Engineering, maintenance and security staff, on all shifts, must understand their responsibilities in the event of a fire or other type of emergency. All high-rise buildings in Cape May County should have an emergency evacuation plan.

Stairwells should be clearly marked and doors should never be propped open. Inside the stairwell, on each level, there should be information clearly indicating the stairwell and floor designation, how far you must descend to reach the ground floor exit and whether or not the stairwell provides access to the roof.

High-rise tenants should know the evacuation plan for their building and what to do in the event of an alarm. This means understanding the various levels of alarm in their building and the proper response for each. They should know the location of each exit stairwell on their floor, both the primary (closest) and secondary exits.

In a large office building, the tenants should have an emergency plan in place that includes everyone, including visitors and employees who may need assistance. Fire drills are an important part of any non-residential high-rise building emergency plan. Even during the catastrophic explosion and fire in the World Trade Center buildings, thousands of people safely evacuated the towers. Well-maintained fire protection equipment along with planning and practice are the keys to life safety in high-rise buildings.