If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you may have noticed a lot of news coverage on large fires across the United States. Since the mid-1970s, high-rise buildings in the United States have been mandated to have systems such as automatic sprinklers and fire alarms in place.
As a result of these measures, the average number of those who die in high-rise building fires is estimated by the National Fire Protection Association to be around 40 people annually. While it's statistically rare to die in a high-rise fire, it's not outside the realm of possibility. To help avoid adding to that annual count, we'd like to cover some of the things you can be aware of when faced with making fire protection decisions.
The requirement of these systems to be present in high-rise buildings has undoubtedly been a major factor in the reduction of injuries and fatalities when a fire breaks out. However, installation of these systems doesn't appear to be entirely uniform nationwide, as several states seem to have a significantly higher number of fire-related deaths.
Some high-rise buildings only offer residents access to a single emergency stairwell as an evacuation route during a fire scenario. Low-rise apartment buildings, generally only two or three stories, may have an improvised exit in the form of a balcony or patio, but high-rises should have at least two emergency stairwells to help facilitate tenant evacuations.
Scheduling and executing regular fire drills, either on a per-family basis or in cooperation with other tenants in the building, can only improve the chances of survival.
As we are entering the colder months of the year, fires tend to spike because more people are using space heaters, turkey fryers, and fireplaces. Mattresses and certain types of furniture upholstery are treated in such a way as to reduce the chance of catching fire, but even these measures cannot eliminate basic carelessness such improperly snuffing out a candle or leaving an oven unattended for an excessive period of time. Basic awareness of one's surroundings at any given moment will significantly improve the likelihood of avoiding a fire in the home. It is also critical to ensure that smoke detectors are active, tested, and have fresh batteries at all times.
In most cases, fires in high-rise apartments and similar buildings are easily preventable with a modicum of common sense, caution and mindfulness. However, if a fire does happen, it’s important that you get expert assistance right away. Our fire investigators at S-E-A Limited can identify and resolve the true source of a wide range of fires. We can also conduct flammability testing in our full-service chemical laboratory to understand which items in your home may have contributed to the fire. For further information about our fire protection and investigation methods, contact us. Fires can cause very serious damage and harm, so they should never be taken lightly and should always be investigated when they occur.
Doug Morrs Article on Evaluating Occupant Restraint Performance Featured in SAE Off Highway EngineeringNovember 08, 2012