High-rise or multi-storey buildings are more prone to fire than your typical residential standalone property. Tower blocks of highrise flats are six floors or more, and you can not think of fire safety without recalling the Grenfell Tower.
At 24 floors, it was a tall tower block. The fire that destroyed it was caused by remedial work done on it and the new inflammable exterior cladding made it spread fast and impossible to extinguish. Lives were lost.
The Grenfell fire was a wake-up call for all high rise living and fire prevention and safety.
Staying inside proved fatal in the Grenfell fire, whereas in more cases, in buildings designed to be fire-resistant, this would be the right instruction.
Many cities and urban areas have high-rise residential living in some of the world’s top cities, for example, Hong Kong, New York, London, Singapore.
Building up instead of out is the future, so all residents should know how to prevent a fire and be prepared to deal with fire hazards.
Here are some tips which can help people living or working in high-rise buildings ensure safety from fire hazards.
Use the Nearest Staircase
In most cases, the staircase is not dangerous when a fire breaks out. High-rise buildings are designed and constructed using fire retardant materials. Fire in a high-rise building is mainly confined to one apartment or floor, keeping the staircase safe. In case of a fire break out, you should seek the closest staircase to exit the building.
If you’re concerned about the status of the building you reside in, you can get your building surveys on the EWS1 Portal to determine whether the high-rise building is safe from fire or not.
Of course, if there are areas of weakness showing in the survey, find out what’s been done about them. You may need to make the call to move out of your flat to another residence where you can feel safer.
Call for Emergency Help
When you live in a building with many more inhabitants, you might be thinking that someone else has already made a call to the helpline in case of a fire. Sometimes, people panic and might forget to call the firefighters and instead focus on their escape.
It is best to make a call by yourself as fast as you can. It can help prevent the fire from spreading and damaging the high-rise building. You can make a call while you are in a hurry to exit the building.
Stay Calm – Panic is Contagious
When you learn of a fire in your building, attempting to get out as fast as you can is not always the safest thing. First, feel the door with the back of your hands. If it feels hot, then it means that your story or floor is in a dangerous situation.
Stay calm and inform the authorities if you are unable to leave your flat. In the meantime, get a wet towel and seal the door cracks from where the smoke is entering. Keep breathing at an average pace and inform the location to your helpers.
Know Your Building
Every high-rise building has its own features and design. Ignorance is deadly when it comes to fires as they are unpredictable.
If you were living in your own house, you’d be in the know about its construction and condition. You’d know if there were areas that needed repair or replacement. While it is harder to get the detail on high rises, your safety and that of your fellow residents is a top priority.
Remember being forearmed is being forewarned. Early detection of vulnerabilities and safety hazards can prevent a major disaster like Grenfell. Have your own fire safety plan for your building. Make sure your flat or apartment has fire extinguishers and know where the exits and staircases are located.
Where are the fire hose adapters fitted in the building? You can ask for a map of the building or do a complete survey by yourself. Whatever you do – isn’t a waste of time or effort; remember it can be life-saving when you know how to minimise risk and avoid danger.