Fire safety for residents in high-rise buildings

Following the devastating incident at Grenfell Tower in London, many local councils and fire departments are reassuring residents about the prevention measures and response arrangements in place for high-rise buildings.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), The Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have offered the following advice for residents in high-rise buildings and flats:

Smoke Alarms

While many properties will have smoke alarms already fitted, however, if your property doesn’t it is crucial you should fit one is at least one floor. Having a smoke alarm will help provide an early warning of a fire, allowing residents more time to put fire safety procedures into action.

Once a smoke alarm is fitted, the maintenance of the alarm is vital to keep it functioning. A smoke alarm should be tested once a week, the batteries should be replaced every year, the vents should be cleaned twice a year and the detector should never be covered.

Escape Plan

It is important for those living in high-rise buildings to establish an escape plan for emergencies. Once a plan has been created, everyone living in the flat should familiarise themselves with all routes, doors and exits. High-rise buildings will have their own building evacuation plans in place, which should illustrate exactly what residents are to do in the event of an emergency. This plan should be rehearsed in a fire drill at least once a year in order to ensure everything is up to date.

Building Safety

Following these tips daily will help increase safety in the event of an emergency.

  • All fire doors should be kept closed when not in use.
  • Make sure all exits and passageways are kept clear of obstructions
  • Do not tamper with internal fire mains (dry riser) inlets on the landings
  • Close all internal doors at night.
  • Report faulty doors or staircases immediately
  • Never park your vehicles in a designated space for emergency services
  • Ensure all smoking materials, such as cigarettes, are fully extinguished and cold before putting in rubbish bags and placing in bin chute.
  • Never use or store bottled gas cylinders in high-ride buildings.

In the Event of a Fire

Remember, if there is an emergency, never assume another person has already dialled 999, and make the call yourself. If possible, raise the alarm and make others in the building aware.

In the event of a fire, never use the elevator and always use the stairs. It is vital when creating an escape plan you familiarise yourself with all staircases in the building just in case any are obstructed. It is also important to incorporate a plan for anyone who has difficulty using stairs. Remember that if your building is using electric locks on doors that the fail-safe default is set to unlocked meaning you won’t need to search for your keys.

Sometimes the safest place to stay in the event of a fire is in your own flat. If it is too dangerous to follow your planned escape route, or if you cannot exit the building due to smoke or fire in the hallway, it is best to gather in the safest room with a window and report your exact location to the fire department. Using duct tape, towels or bedding to create a seal around doors and air vents will prevent smoke from coming into the room.

If you are in immediate danger and your flat is not too high from the ground, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have advised you to drop cushions, mattresses or bedding to the ground below to break your fall. Get out feet first and lower yourself down the full length of your arms before dropping. If you are trapped in a high storey, lean out of the open window for fresh air until the fire service arrives. If the smoke becomes too thick, crouch to floor level as smoke rises upwards.

If you are living in a high-rise building, or know someone who is, it is crucial to express the importance of fire safety procedures and fire prevention. For more information please contact your local housing office.

Further Reading:

Read our tips and advice for keeping your flat/house secure. – https://www.keytek.co.uk/security-tips/

Source: http://www.leeds.gov.uk/residents/Pages/Fire-safety-information-for-residents-in-high-rise-flats.aspx

http://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/Fire%20Safety%20Leaflet%20-%20High%20Rise.pdf

http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/by-topic/safety-in-the-home/escape-planning/escape-planning-in-tall-buildings

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