Does Your Commercial High-Rise Need Extra Fire Protection?

The best kind of high-rise building is one that incorporates high-performing design. It’s a building that protects the people inside and adapts to their needs so that the entire space is used efficiently. 

The best building designs include beautiful spaces that people will enjoy visiting. In high-rise buildings, that requires attention to interior design and a strategy to help people connect through inviting spaces. But building owners need to care about more than design; they also need to consider the safety of occupants and visitors, which includes sufficient fire and smoke protection. 

Modern Demands on Commercial Design 

There is extensive research in the construction industry that suggests how important interior design is on occupant health. From better respiratory health to improved sleep, all of the elements that go into a commercial design have an impact on the people who use that space. 

Mary Cook with suggests that “social connectivity” can provide a few solutions for today’s architects who want a health-conscious building design — one that encourages social interaction. “This makes it critical for commercial interior designers to create spaces in buildings that cause occupants to interact with each other and build community,” says Mary. 

That’s precisely why open concepts and atrium designs are so popular in multi-story buildings: A well-designed open space encourages social interaction, which benefits occupants and their well-being. “Social connectivity is the solution,” says Mary, “and it has a deep and positive impact on health and wellness.”

But these expansive, open spaces can be harder to design when it comes to fire safety because the open design encourages airflow. According to Dr. Michael Reick for Fire Rescue Magazine, fresh airflow helps fire to spread, and modern design materials and elements often have a “higher heat release rate.” 

This combination makes it easy for flames to build at a more rapid rate. “For the safety of all life in the fire compartment and the adjacent rooms in the building, this development must be prevented,” according to Dr. Reick. “Therefore it’s strongly recommended that we make every effort to control/reduce the flow of fresh air.” 

Thankfully, there are fire protection solutions that help building owners both maintain the beauty of the space they envisioned and provide the kind of fire and smoke protection that high-rise buildings require. 

Tools and Materials for Fire Protection: A Checklist 

Building owners can equip their space with fire and smoke protection products that promise reliability and help with solutions for high-traffic buildings. In order to adequately protect the interior design and prevent airflow in a large volume space, building owners should use a combination of active and passive smoke control systems. 

There are a few systems that designers have used successfully, and building owners can take note of the most common products used:

Mechanical exhaust system: An exhaust system is a common solution in high-rises. This system extracts smoke from open spaces to prevent it from building and help clear the area for safe evacuation. 

Smoke-proof exit stairs: Building codes today require protection for exit stairs in commercial high-rise buildings. Stairs can be used for emergency personnel access or for building occupants to use in an evacuation. There are three building code-compliant design options: exterior stair balconies, mechanically ventilated stair vestibules or stair pressurization.

Elevator smoke curtains: Many designers incorporate easy-to-install elevator smoke curtains for enhanced protection. They’re often used in commercial redesigns to help bring a building up to code, when they’re used in conjunction with fire-rated elevator doors. Smoke Guard offers designers several options for elevator protection, including custom options for any sized-elevator design. (Learn more: check out the most frequently asked questions about Smoke Guard’s code-compliant curtains here.)


Fire and smoke rated curtains: These curtains are a favorite solution for architects who want comprehensive smoke protection for atriums and large enclosures. “Smoke curtains can reduce heat release rates (by depriving the fire of oxygen) and lead to less severe fire development,” according to Fire Rescue magazine.  

Smoke Guard offers a few types of smoke curtains, depending on your design needs.


A vertically deploying fire and smoke rated curtain is a cost-efficient choice for atrium separation and openings in walls.


A horizontally deploying curtain helps architects keep smoke contained in a large space and can eliminate the need for mechanical smoke evacuation systems.

A perimeter curtain can protect staircases and escalators, and contains the smoke above open spaces. It’s a code-compliant complement to existing smoke and fire containment systems.

High-Performing High-Rise Design

To create a multi-story space that meets more stringent codes for fire protection, but still achieves visually stunning design, architects have a few solutions at their fingertips. Building owners can help guarantee their building design is as attractive, functional and safe as they expect it to be by using the right fire protection materials. 

By working with experts from Smoke Guard, building owners don’t have to worry about installation or maintenance with the materials they choose. Smoke Guard walks all of its clients through the selection and installation process, and an expert will help with product installation and testing to ensure your design is up-to-code. 

It is possible to design a space that’s inviting to occupants and well-protected. You can check out a few ways to help enhance your commercial design further by clicking here.

Learn what kind of solutions Smoke Guard provides in your area. Find a Smoke Guard distributor here.