Buildings with multiple occupied stories face unique fire protection challenges. Without intervention, fire and smoke move upward rapidly, increasing the risk for those above the floor that’s on fire. Moreover, evacuating people from elevated floors is a race against the clock, and firefighters face more difficulties putting out fires efficiently in tall buildings.
These challenges require the implementation of comprehensive fire safety features. Learn more about the life-saving fire safety features found in tall buildings to understand the measures required to mitigate fire risks.
Automatic Fire Sprinklers
Automatic fire sprinklers detect and suppress fires in their early stages, giving occupants more time to evacuate while limiting the spread of flames and smoke. Sprinkler heads are strategically placed throughout the building, and when activated by heat, they release water to extinguish or control the fire.
Smoke Control Systems
Smoke control systems are another type of life-saving fire safety feature used in tall buildings. Smoke control systems control the movement of smoke within the building, preventing it from spreading to other floors and escape routes.
Mechanical systems, such as ventilation fans, reduce smoke buildup, with passive barriers impeding the smoke’s movement. Smoke control systems improve visibility and air quality for occupants exiting the building.
The distance from fire hydrants to upper stories necessitates strategically placed water access within taller buildings. Standpipes provide a reliable water source for firefighting, eliminating the need for firefighters to stretch hoses from the ground up to the higher stories.
Standpipe systems consist of vertical pipes equipped with outlets on each floor, allowing firefighters to connect hoses and access the water supply quickly. Standpipes are integral to fire safety because they allow for rapid water delivery to each floor.
Noncombustible Construction Materials
Multistory buildings are typically constructed using noncombustible materials, such as concrete, steel, fiber cement boards, and fire-resistant glass. These materials offer superior fire resistance compared to traditional combustible building materials like wood.
Noncombustible materials help contain fires within their areas of origin. Additionally, they improve the structural integrity of buildings, better facilitating evacuations and rescue operations.
Fire- and Smoke-Protected Exits
Finally, fire-protected exits, such as stairwells with fire-rated doors, can withstand the effects of fire and smoke for extended periods. They are constructed with fire-resistant materials, and the doors are either self-closing, automatic-closing, or power-operated to prevent the spread of smoke and flames. Additionally, illuminated exit signs and emergency lighting systems can guide occupants to the nearest protected exits.