Smoke Control in High Rise Buildings

A fire in any building can be cause for alarm. Smoke and flames pose dangers to the people inside, while at the same time causing thousands of dollars to damage to the building itself in just minutes.

High rise buildings in particular have very special needs when it comes to smoke and fire control. Because smoke can travel through a building very quickly, it makes it more difficult for occupants of the upper floors to reach clean air safely.

That’s why smoke control in high rise buildings is so important, and why simply having fire extinguishing equipment on site is not enough.

The Path of Smoke

During a fire, it’s often the smoke that poses the most harm and does the most damage because of how quickly smoke travels and the path that it takes through a building.

Vents, stairways, and elevator shafts all channel smoke, allowing it to move throughout the building in just minutes.

In a high-rise building, occupants on upper floors can quickly become trapped by smoke and flames, particularly if the elevators and stairwells are filled with smoke. Often, occupants may attempt to find a path to the outdoors, only to be turned back as they descend lower into the building where the smoke is thicker.

Smoke control should be employed as well as fire extinguishing equipment to prevent smoke from moving through common escape routes like stairways. Simply controlling flames and keeping them to one area of the building is not enough to prevent loss of life or injury for occupants on upper floors.

Smoke Curtains for Communicating Stairs and Elevators


Communicating stairs and elevator shafts in high rise buildings can quickly become chimneys in the event of a fire, channeling and pulling the smoke from lower floors to the upper stories.

One way to combat this issue, and to keep stairways clear of smoke to allow occupants to descend safely is to employ the use of smoke and fire curtains in these areas.

Smoke curtains are discreetly installed at the head of an elevator or stairwell doorway. They deploy automatically in the event of a fire, or can be manually deployed in the event of an outage.

The curtain deploys to cover the opening, preventing smoke and flames from entering the area. This helps to contain the smoke and fire at its source and prevents the smoke from infiltrating the rest of the building.

When paired with fire extinguishing equipment, smoke curtains can help minimize damage to the building while helping to ensure that the exits from the building remain safe and accessible for occupants.

Smoke Control for Other Areas


Not every high-rise building is going to have the same layout, format, or needs when it comes to fire and smoke control. While protecting the elevator shafts and stairwells should be one priority, your high-rise building may have additional needs to consider as well.

Many newer buildings often have atriums or open lobbies that extend upwards several stories before reaching a ceiling. A fire breaking out in the atrium or lobby could allow smoke to reach these upper stories and the rooms or offices that surround the open area very quickly.

A horizontal smoke curtain, designed to deploy across the open section of the lobby, could help prevent this from happening. The smoke curtain can also give fire extinguishing equipment time to work which minimizes damage and costs associated with rising smoke.

Smoke curtains can also be used to help divide open floor plans to contain smoke in newer office and apartment layouts that rely on a lack of physical barriers for style. By installing discreet smoke curtains at specific junctions throughout the space, you can help ensure that damage and loss of life is minimized no matter what use your particular building is put to.

Include Smoke Protection

Smoke is often responsible for more damage to a building than the flames themselves. And, smoke can linger and travel throughout a building even after the flames have been extinguished. 

By utilizing smoke control methods such as smoke curtains in your high-rise building, you help to minimize costs associated with this damage, as well as the amount of time that the building may be out of use after a fire. 

When making plans for flame and fire containment and extinguishment in your high-rise building, make sure that you also take steps to add smoke control as well. 

Don’t let the elevators and stairwells that are part of every high rise become chimneys that pull smoke to every floor of your building, and don’t allow modern office and apartment layouts to make smoke and fire control difficult.

Instead, look to discreet and cost-effective smoke and fire curtains to help ensure the safety of your building and all of its occupants at all times.