Skyscraper Fire Safety: 8 Critical Considerations


Given the ever-growing population rates, it's no surprise that high-rise buildings have become a common sight in modern cities. They provide sufficient housing and workspace for people while still being cost-effective. The tall towers optimize land use and create more economic efficiency.

It's important for those who live or work in high-rise buildings to know how to safely handle a fire. These types of buildings have their own unique fire safety risks that other structures don't have. Therefore, it's vital to not only be aware of the fire safety features in your building but also to understand what you can do to prevent fires before they become uncontrollable.

The History of High-Rise Building Construction

The first high-rise buildings were designed in the late 19th century when advances in steel and concrete construction allowed taller structures. Since then, high-rise buildings have become an integral part of the skyline in cities around the world. They are used for office space, residential apartments, hotels, retail stores and more. However, the design of high-rise buildings must take into account the unique challenges posed by their height.

By understanding the unique challenges posed by high-rise buildings, architects can ensure that these structures are safe and comfortable for occupants.

What Are the Safety Risks Associated with High-Rise Buildings?

High-rise buildings have their own fire safety challenges. Architects, builders and owners of these structures must address many fundamental issues to provide a reasonable level of protection from fire and its effects. There are several dangers associated with fires in tall buildings:

  • The heat from the fire can cause the fire and smoke to spread vertically, making it difficult to evacuate people from the upper floors.
  • First responders may have difficulty reaching elevated floors with their equipment.
  • The lack of smoke-resistant barriers can also contribute to the spread of smoke and heat throughout high-rise buildings, which can lead to an increased risk of injury or death if not addressed.
  • As high-rise buildings are often located in dense urban areas, there is an increased likelihood that fires will spread to neighboring buildings if they are not adequately contained.

These risks must be taken into account when designing high-rise buildings and other high-rise buildings.

8 Critical Considerations for Fire Safety in High-Rise Buildings

Fire safety in tall buildings has always been a combination of active and passive systems. Active systems are things like fire detection, alarm and suppression. Passive systems are building elements that are fail-safe — such as fire doors, fire walls, and safety fire floors.

These floors provide a safe haven for occupants in the event of a fire and help prevent the spread of fire to other parts of the building. The proper combination of these methods will ensure the safety of personnel and property in the event of a fire.

1. Establish a Fire Safety Plan


Fire drills are crucial for maintaining safety in any building. All residents or workers should be familiar with the evacuation plan, and it should be posted clearly so that everyone can see it.

2. Hold Regular Fire Drills


Fire drills shouldn’t just be discussed — they should be practiced. Building management should hold a fire drill at least once every year for everyone living or working in the building. This helps occupants understand what to do in case of an emergency, including where and how to exit and where to retreat once they’ve left the building.

3. Avoid Elevators When Evacuating the Building


Electricity is often lost in the case of a fire hazard, and elevators may be stuck between floors during operation. If possible, using the stairs is the safest way to leave the building.

4. Automatic Sprinkler Systems


Automatic sprinkler systems are an important part of fire safety in high-rise buildings. They are designed to douse the fire automatically with water on all the floors of the building where the fire starts.

This is done by having a network of pipes connected to a water supply and sprinkler heads located throughout the building. The sprinkler heads are heat activated and will open when the temperature gets too high, allowing water to flow onto the fire.

5. Smoke Detectors and Fire Alarms


One of the most important considerations is to install smoke and fire alarms. These devices work by sensing the presence of smoke or heat and sounding an alarm to alert occupants to the danger. In addition, smoke and fire alarms in new construction are interconnected, meaning that if one goes off, they all will.

This ensures that everyone in the building is aware of the fire, even if they are not in the vicinity of the alarm.

6. Emergency Voice/Alarm Communication Systems


Confusion is a common problem in any emergency, and a clear, calm voice giving directions to a crowd over a speaker system can prevent unnecessary injuries and save lives in the event of a fire. These systems can be activated from the central fire command center or connected to other smoke and fire alarm systems and will issue standard instructions to help direct occupants to exits or safe rooms.

7. Fire Command Center


A skyscraper fire command center is a special facility accessed directly from outside the building, where the skyscraper's fire safety systems are monitored and managed. These systems include the building's sprinkler system, fire alarm system and ventilation system, as well as any smoke and fire mitigation curtains that have been installed.

8. Smoke and Fire Containment Curtains


Any fire safety system typically contains three key parts: detection, notification and response. Most structures contain smoke and heat sensors, as well as a way to warn individuals of a blaze. If there is a fire, most sprinkler systems will go off automatically due to the water pressure. However, sprinklers cannot contain smoke which is one of the leading causes of death in a fire situation. This has led to a rise in smoke and fire curtains, an integral element of fire safety in skyscrapers.

There are three main categories of curtains: elevator, vertical and horizontal. And here at Smoke Guard, we offer high-quality curtain protection solutions for each category:

  • Elevator Curtains: Elevator smoke containment curtains are an easy and code-compliant way to protect your elevator openings and upper floors from smoke and draft. We offer both a standard and custom configuration at Smoke Guard. Our elevator curtains can be quickly installed in existing fire protection systems to bring your structure up to code with ease.
  • Vertical Curtains: Vertically deployed curtains are an excellent and budget-friendly way to safeguard against fire and smoke. Our M2100 curtains are perfect for atrium separation, openings in walls and specialty enclosures where fire-rated protection is mandated and can be customized with automatic or manual deployment.
  • Horizontal Curtains: Fire-rated assemblies, such as our M3000 solutions, can deploy horizontally and protect large spaces between floors to potentially eliminate the need for mechanical smoke evacuation systems.

Smoke Guard Provides Innovative Fire and Smoke Opening Protectives


Our smoke and fire curtains can help prevent the spread of fire and smoke in any building, making them an essential addition to any skyscraper's safety plan. They can be quickly installed into existing fire protection systems and are designed to cover any opening — from small dumbwaiters and counters to large atrium spaces and theater stage curtains.

For more information on how our products can protect your space and the occupants within it, please visit our website and contact us today.