High-Rise Fire Safety

Anyone can survive a high-rise fire when they know what to do. Before a fire occurs, have an escape plan and practice the escape. If a fire occurs, the most important thing to do is sound the alarm and get out.

Prevent fires from occurring by practicing simple fire safety actions.

The NFPA has provided a safety sheet for high-rise apartments and condos (PDF).

Plan for a Fire Before It Occurs:

  • Know the location of exits.
  • Recognize the sound of the fire alarm.
  • Know how to activate the alarm.
  • Know how to contact the fire department.
  • Participate in fire drills and know the evacuation plans for the building.
  • Do not prop open exit doors or store anything in halls or stairwells.

If a Fire is Discovered, Sound the Alarm and Exit:

  • Sound the fire alarm, no matter how small the fire seems to be.
  • Close all doors upon exiting, especially the door to a burning room.
  • Proceed directly to the exit. Do not use the elevators.
  • Go quickly and calmly to the ground floor and exit immediately.
  • In all instances, follow the directions of fire and security personnel.

Stay Calm if the Exit Route is Blocked by Smoke:

  • Crawl low in smoke. The air is easier to breathe near the floor.
  • If trapped in a room, close all doors between occupants and the smoke. Seal cracks around doors and vents.
  • If possible, open windows slightly at the top and bottom to let fresh air enter.
  • Signal at the window to rescuers. If there is a phone in the room, give the fire department your exact location, even if they're on the scene.

Prevent Fires from Starting:

  • Smoke only where permitted.
  • Use large ashtrays. Dispose of ashes only when they are cold.
  • Check after smokers for "live" cigarettes smoldering in wastebaskets and under the cushions of upholstered sofas and chairs.
  • Investigate electrical equipment that is not working properly or smells strange. Unusual odors from appliances or cords can be a first sign of fire.
  • If you must use an extension cord, plug only one appliance into it. Unplug extension cords when not in use.
  • Keep heat-producing devices away from things that burn.
  • Make sure all appliances are turned off when people are about to leave the building. In an office building assign someone to do this.
  • Keep all areas clear of trash. This can be fuel for fire.

 Information source: National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).