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Short Guide on How to Ensure High-Rise Building Safety

high rise building safety in emergencies

Improving highrise building safety is fundamental for avoiding events that cause injuries and fatalities.

Homeowners with apartments in high-rise buildings can ensure that the building management and body corporate are keeping up with maintenance. However, the rise in building safety also involves a combination of proactive measures, advanced technologies, and adherence to regulations.

A Wake-Up Call

Highrise or multi-story buildings are more prone to fire than your typical residential standalone property. Tower blocks of highrise flats are six floors or more; you can not imagine 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, 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 highrise living, fire prevention, and safety.

Staying inside proved fatal in the Grenfell fire, whereas in most cases, in buildings designed to be fire-resistant, this would have been the proper instruction.

Many cities and urban areas have high-rise residential areas in some of the world’s top cities, such as Hong Kong, New York, London, and 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.

Safety of Highrise Structures

For fire safety improvement, tenants and residents can determine what fire detection and suppression systems have been installed.

Regular fire drills and reminders of evacuation procedures should also be held. All new tenants should be taught what to do in an emergency, such as a fire.

Fire safety training should be a prerequisite for all building staff, contractors, parents, and visitors like tradespeople and contractors.

Safety training also needs to extend to emergency evacuation plans. Ensure your building has a relevant, comprehensive, and managed emergency evaluation plan with clear and visible exit signs and that stairwells are well-lit and easily accessible.


Evacuation drills can be annoying. However, they also save lives and ensure occupants are familiar with evacuation routes.

Maintenance and Building Tech

Keeping up with maintenance requirements requires routine inspections of the building’s structure, systems, and safety features.

To manage the task, a comprehensive maintenance program is needed to address any identified issues promptly.

The goal is to uphold the structural integrity of the building, including foundations and load-bearing elements. The building needs routine inspections with structure engineers and remedial work to address any wear, corrosion, or damage issues.

Intelligent building technologies for real-time monitoring of various systems (e.g., HVAC, electrical, plumbing) save lives. New and old buildings can benefit from early warning systems for detecting anomalies and potential hazards.

The building must comply with local building codes and safety standards and additional requirements associated with highrise buildings.

Handling Natural Disasters and Emergencies

Everything starts with a plan. Develop plans for handling natural disasters and other emergencies specific to the building’s location.
Consider incorporating resilient design principles in building construction and retrofits.

Establish relationships with local emergency services and coordinate emergency response plans with them.

Tips for Occupants In An Emergency

In an emergency, panic can set in, and common sense can go out the window. Here are some tips on dealing with a high-rise building emergency.

Use the Nearest Staircase

Usually, the staircase is not dangerous when a fire breaks out. Highrise buildings are designed and constructed using fire-retardant materials. Fire in a highrise building is mainly confined to one apartment or floor, keeping the staircase safe. You should seek the closest staircase to exit the building if a fire breaks out.

If you’re concerned about the status of your building, you can get your building surveys on the EWS1 Portal to determine whether the highrise building is safe from fire.

Of course, if the survey has weaknesses, find out what’s been done about them. You may need to move out of your flat to a safer residence.


Call for Emergency Help

When you live in a building with many more inhabitants, you might think someone else has already called 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 yourself as fast as possible. It can help prevent the fire from spreading and damaging the highrise 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 possible 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 cannot leave your flat. In the meantime, get a wet towel and seal the door cracks from where the smoke enters. Keep breathing at an average pace and inform your helpers of the location.

Know Your Building

Every highrise building has its 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 aware of its construction and condition and if there were areas that needed repair or replacement. While getting the details on high rises is more arduous, your safety and fellow residents are top priorities.

Remember, being forearmed is being forewarned. Early detection of vulnerabilities and safety hazards can prevent a major disaster like Grenfell. Have a fire safety plan for your building. Ensure your flat or apartment has fire extinguishers and know where the exits and staircases are.

Where are the fire hose adapters fitted in the building? You can ask for a building map or do a complete survey 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.

Summing Up

By combining these measures, building owners can create a safer environment for occupants and reduce the risks associated with highrise structures. Regularly updating safety measures and staying informed about advancements in building safety technology is crucial for maintaining a secure environment.

Occupants can act quickly and get away from danger. Save yourself first, then look after whoever needs your help. However, do not reenter the building. Take a first aid course to learn how to help others who are injured.