The high-rise building presents 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 cumulative effect of requiring great numbers of persons to travel great vertical distances on stairs in order to evacuate the building.
High-rise buildings have garnered significant attention in the fire safety world over the years. 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. Organizations such as NFPA continue to provide resources to help ensure occupant and property protection during the time of a fire in a high-rise building.
The management of building occupants within high-rise buildings is a primary concern during emergencies. While procedures for fire evacuation have been developed and adopted by major fire and emergency services throughout North America, there remains considerable variation in practice in the field. Download a free copy of "Guidelines to Developing Emergency Action Plans for All-Hazard Emergencies in High-Rise Office Buildings" (PDF, 1.5. MB), developed by NFPA's High-Rise Building Safety Advisory Committee.
Evacuation and planning information
High-Rise Building Fires: In 2007-2011, an estimated 15,400 reported high-rise structure fires per year resulted in associated losses of 46 civilian deaths, 530 civilian injuries, and $219 million in direct property damage per year. An estimated 3% of all 2007-2011 reported structure fires were in high-rise buildings.
NFPA video: High-Rise Evacuation
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. Learn more about NFPA's High-Rise Evacuation video.