Fire Drill in High-rises – Do people Climb Down 100 floors during Emergencies?
Whenever you hear the ‘fire alarm buzz’ in a high-rise, your impulse reaction is ‘run to safety’. But have you ever given a thought of how long is your run down the multiple building floors?
The catastrophic 9/11 terrorist attacks and fire tragedies over the years have prompted authorities to take a fresh look at fire-safety in super-tall buildings. As high-rise buildings require occupants to travel great vertical distances down the stairs, the importance of safe evacuation procedures has garnered lot of attention.
It’s human impulse to run towards safety when you smell smoke or spot black fumes. But the problem is during a fire fury, thick black smoke obscures the visibility of escape routes. In the commotion and panic, people are unable to assess which is the safest route for exit. For these reasons, fire drills are conducted to prepare occupants to respond calmly while making their dash to safety. Under a good evacuation plan, it ideally takes a few minutes to exit a 5-storey building. But in the case of high-rises (over 12 storeys) and skyscrapers (over 40 storeys with the elevator out of action, the only escape is to run down the stairs, which may take hours.
Here is all you need to know about fire-safety protocols both in real-time and mock operations:
Several challenges are presented when a fire erupts in a towering structure — longer exit time and distance, elaborate evacuation methods and difficult access for extinguishing the blaze. Despite all this, inhabitants must follow standard safety procedures:
– When the alarms ring, occupants on the fire floor and those immediately above or below it, must descend to several floors below. If a fire erupts on floor 20 and you’re on 19, you need to run down to floor 15 until further instructions. Other floor occupants are advised to stay where they are and wait further instruction from fire officials.
– Most towering structures have multiple staircases, so if the fire is in the northwest corner, residents will be guided to use the stairs located on the east of the building.
– If it is a small fire, it is likely that the fire will be contained by fire extinguishers or sprinkler systems. Occupants will be able to return to their floor and resume activities within a few hours. However, for people on the affected floor it would take much longer depending on the extent of damage.
– In the event of a massive fire outbreak or fast-spreading fire, announcements to exit can be expanded to additional floors or even the entire building. People will be instructed to race down all the stairs as the only route to safety.
In the future, wider stairwells, advanced sprinkler systems and smart alarms that give precise instructions can make buildings safer in case of emergencies. Fire-proof elevators that withstand the impact of fires and earthquakes could also be designed to evacuate people.
– An essential part of saving lives, fire drills provide a chance for people to rehearse the steps they need to follow during a raging fire and ensure evictions go smoothly. Here are steps followed in mock evacuations.
– A full evacuation is not always performed during mock fire operations. People are typically guided to evacuate to a safe distance away from the floor experiencing the fire.
– The important objective is to ensure building occupants have basic training to use fire extinguishers, can quickly locate exit routes and respond promptly in an emergency (without wasting time to gather their belongings or prevent litter of objects that could cause slipping hazards on stairs).
– Practice drills clock the total time taken for evacuation and test the proper functioning of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and exit lighting signages to fasten escape procedures.
Did you know?
Mock fire drills are held annually at the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa (163 floors)- ahead of the new year fireworks. The life-saving exercise is a part of the strategic plan of Dubai Civil Defense to ensure the preparedness of residents and guests to tackle unforeseen incidents. Interestingly in the mock operation, a fire on the tower’s 112th floor was brought under control within 10 minutes.
Electric Way, a reliable electrical equipment supplier in Dubai, offers the best fire-safety systems, emergency lighting systems, fire-resistant cables and fire alarm cables, to cater to the safety of people and property within. Backed by years of experience in installing electrical systems at various campuses, we can install new safety electrical equipment or retrofit the existing units.
For comprehensive fireproof installations for residential or commercial spaces, speak to our electrical engineers on +971 4 8170777 or send an email to email@example.com
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