Fire Safety Protocol in High-Rises: Part 2

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High-Rises are designed to be fire-safe, but they often contain many people, and rescues are challenging because of the significant size of some buildings. This creates the real potential for major incidents. With that being said, high-rises are generally designed to be more fireproof than the average single-family dwelling. The ceilings and floors are constructed with fire-resistant materials, and compartments between units act as barriers to stop fire from spreading.

Firefighters often cannot rescue people from an outside balcony or window due to equipment limitations. Even though you may have seen it in the movies, helicopter rescues are too dangerous, and are almost never attempted. High-rise buildings always contain a fire alarm system designed to alert occupants when there is trouble. Smoke detectors, thermal detectors, and sprinkler flow switches, are all types of fire alarm devices usually located within a building. If you hear a fire alarm, you must always call 911, making sure to sure you give your name and full address.

The very best escape route is usually through the interior fire-separated stairwell shafts. Stairwells will have signs posted indicating which floor level you are on. You can crossover to an alternate stairwell if you encounter smoke while on your descent, but keep the stairwell doors closed at all times to preserve the safety of these escape stairs.
Most buildings also have portable fire extinguishers located in the fire hose cabinets on each floor. These cabinets contain a standpipe structure that is an interior water supply system for use by firefighters. .

High-Rise Survival Kits

The Toronto Fire Services recommends that all tenants of high buildings purchase a high-rise survival kit. You should make this kit readily available in case you or someone in your unit becomes trapped during a fire. You can purchase the following list of items for less than $50, and having them available for an emergency could very well save your life. (

  1. Wet Towel - Place at the base of a door.
  2. Duct Tape - Tape over door and vent openings.
  3. Foil Wrap - Use to cover vent openings.
  4. Whistle - Use to signal for help.
  5. Flashlight - Use in case of power failure, smoke, or to signal for help.
  6. Bright - Coloured Cloth- Hang up in a window or balcony to show your location.
  7. Ink Marker - Use for messages on cloth, door or windows.
  8. Cotton Bed Sheet - Soak the sheet with water and make a tent near a window.
  9. Washcloth - Place a wet cloth over your face to aid breathing in smoke.
  10. Fire Safety Plan - Have a copy of your building’s emergency procedures available.
  11. Plastic Pail - Use for storing survival equipment. (Fill with water during a fire.)
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