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High-rise building safety

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. 

High-rise buildings have garnered significant attention in the fire safety world over the years. The multiple floors of a high-rise building create the cumulative effect of requiring great numbers of persons to travel great vertical distances on stairs in order to evacuate the building. The public, code bodies, local, regional and federal governments, as well as the design, build, and ownership communities are all affected by high-rise building safety.


NFPA's High-Rise Building Safety Advisory Committee

This committee was appointed by the NFPA Standards Council to identify existing needs and emerging issues within the high-rise building environment, produce recommendations as to how NFPA can provide a leadership role on such issues, and ensure that the NFPA codes and standards process includes current subject matter on high-rise building safety, emerging technologies, and other matters that impact those who work in, live in, or operate high-rise buildings. Learn more about the Committee; see meeting agenda, minutes, and membership information.

We are looking for your feedback: Please provide comments on the NFPA emergency action plan guide.
Evacuation and planning information
NFPA reports and investigations

High-Rise Building Fires: This report provides estimated annual averages of fires and associated losses in U.S. high-rise building fires during five-year period of 2009-2013. This includes any fire in a structure at least seven stories in height above ground.

See a list of NFPA reports about high-rise buildings, and free NFPA investigation reports on fires in high-rise building.

  • There is scientific evidence to support requests for adequate staffing levels and response times for fire departments that protect high-rise buildings. (July/August 2013)
  • Following the attacks in 2001, NFPA launched an effort to strengthen codes and standards for first responders, the built environment, and emergency preparedness. "A Decade of Difference" includes information on high-rise building and an interview with an NFPA investigator who recalls his work at Ground Zero. (Sept/Oct. 2011)
  • A fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City in 1911 killed 146 people. "The Triangle Fire 100 Years Later" looks at what’s changed — and what hasn’t — in the years since the tragedy. (March/April 2011)

Video: High-rise office buildings are designed to be safe, but if a full-scale evacuation is required, employees need to be ready to act quickly and take responsibility for their own safety.