Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings

Very tall buildings have unique hearth safety design issues that are not skilled in different forms of structures. For instance, as a outcome of the peak of the construction is beyond the attain of ladders, tall buildings are outfitted with more fireplace safety options as it’s not possible for the fireplace division to provoke exterior rescues from ladders and suppress fires with outside hose streams.
In regards to fire safety, the performance history of very tall buildings while very successful, has not been with out catastrophic incidents. Many of these incidents have resulted in 1) numerous deaths and injuries, 2) excessive property loss and 3) disruptions in enterprise continuity. For example, the One Meridian Plaza high-rise hearth in Philadelphia that occurred in 1991 resulted in the loss of three firefighters and building by no means being re-opened. In 1988, the fire in the Interstate Bank Building in Los Angeles skilled one fatality and resulted within the building being out of use for six months.
Based on research and lessons learned, the model constructing codes have made vital progress in addressing fire questions of safety in very tall buildings. At the same time, the complexity and distinctive challenges of today’s very tall buildings have created an environment the place comprehensive performance-based solutions have turn out to be a necessity.
To assist the design neighborhood with developing performance-based hearth security options for very tall buildings, in 2013, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) partnered with the International Code Council (ICC) to develop the Engineering Guide: Fire Safety in Very Tall Buildings.1 This publication is written as a information for use along side local codes and requirements and serves as an added device to these concerned in the fire safety design of unique tall buildings. The guide focuses on design points that affect the fire security efficiency of tall buildings and how engineers can incorporate performance-based fireplace safety via hazard and risk analysis methodologies into the design of tall buildings. This article will discuss some of the distinctive hearth safety design strategies/methodologies employed in the design of tall buildings which are referenced within the ICC/SFPE Guide.
Emergency Egress

Developing an effective evacuation strategy for a tall constructing is difficult as the time to complete a full constructing evacuation increases with building top. At the same time, above certain heights, the standard method of requiring all occupants to simultaneous evacuate is in all probability not sensible as occupants turn out to be more weak to additional dangers when evacuating via stairways. That is why tall buildings usually make use of non-traditional or alternative evacuation strategies.
When designing an egress plan for a tall building, the primary goal should be to offer an appropriate means to permit occupants to maneuver to a spot of safety. To accomplish this goal, there are a quantity of evacuation methodologies that are obtainable to the design team. These evacuation methods can include however are not restricted to 1) defend-in-place, 2) moving individuals to areas of refuge and 3) phased/progressive evacuation. It can additionally be potential that a combination of those strategies could be this best solution. When deciding on an acceptable strategy, the design team ought to think about the required stage of safety for the constructing occupants and the building efficiency objectives which are identified by the building’s stakeholders.
Using protected elevators has turn into another evacuation technique that is becoming extra prevalent in the design of tall buildings. In addition to helping the hearth department with operations and rescues, protected elevators are now getting used for building evacuation, particularly for occupants with disabilities. When considering elevators in an evacuation technique, there are a number of design considerations to consider: 1) safety and reliability of the elevators, 2) coordination of elevator controls and building safety methods, 3) schooling of building occupants and first responders and 4) communication to constructing occupants during the emergency.
Tall buildings often employ non-traditional or various evacuation methods.
Fire Resistance

The penalties of partial or international collapse of tall buildings because of a severe fireplace pose a big risk to numerous people, the fire service and surrounding buildings. At the identical time, tall buildings usually have distinctive design features whose position within the construction and fire response usually are not simply understood using traditional fireplace safety strategies. These unique elements may warrant a have to undertake a sophisticated structural fireplace engineering analysis to demonstrate that the building’s performance aims are met.
Performance-based design of structural hearth resistance entails three steps: (1) willpower of the thermal boundary circumstances to a construction resulting from a fireplace; (2) calculation of the thermal response of the construction to the fireplace exposure, and (3) dedication of the structural response of the construction. Guidance on performing this sort of evaluation could be found within the SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures2, and SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculation Methods to Predict the Thermal Performance of Structural and Fire Resistive Assemblies.three

Water-Based Fire Suppression Systems

In tall buildings, the water provide required for fireplace safety techniques can be larger than the aptitude of the public water provide. As such, fireplace protection system water provides for sprinkler systems and standpipes require the use of pumps and/or gravity water tanks to boost the water stress. Reliability of this water provide is a key consideration. As such, redundant hearth pumps, gravity-based storage provides, or both could additionally be needed to reinforce system reliability.
Another issue to consider when designing water-based hearth suppression methods is pressure management as it is possible for system parts to be uncovered to pressures that exceed its maximum working stress. Consequently, it may be essential to design vertical strain zones to manage pressures in the zone. Additionally, strain regulating valves are sometimes wanted. When put in, pressure gauge 10 bar have to be taken to make sure that these strain regulating valves are put in properly and adequately maintained.
Fire Alarm and Communication Systems

Providing constructing occupants with correct info throughout emergencies increases their ability to make acceptable choices about their very own security. Fire alarm and communication systems are an necessary supply of this info. Very tall buildings make use of voice communication methods which may be built-in into the hearth alarm system. When designing voice communication methods it is essential to make positive that the system supplies dependable and credible data.
Fire alarm system survivability is another import factor to consider in hearth alarm system design. For tall buildings, consideration should be given so that an attack by a fire in an evacuation zone does not impair the voice messaging outside the zone. Some of the design considerations to attain survivability might embody: 1) protection of control tools from fireplace, 2) protection of circuits. 3) configuration of circuits and 4) shielding of panels.
Tall buildings often make use of smoke management methods that both vent, exhaust or restrict the spread of smoke.
Smoke Control

Controlling the unfold of smoke is extra complicated in tall buildings. For example, tall buildings experience a phenomenon referred to as stack impact. Stack effect occurs when a tall constructing experiences a strain distinction all through its height on account of temperature differentials between the skin air temperature and the within building temperature. This causes air to maneuver vertically, relying on the surface air temperature – either upward or downward in a constructing. It also can trigger smoke from a constructing hearth to spread all through the building if not managed. That is why tall buildings often employ smoke management methods that either vent, exhaust or restrict the spread of smoke.
Other issues in tall buildings included the air motion created by the piston impact of elevators and the effects of wind. Air motion caused by elevator automobiles ascending and descending in a shaft and the results of wind can end result in smoke motion in tall buildings. These impacts turn out to be extra pronounced as the height of the constructing increase.
Because very tall buildings complicate smoke unfold, efficient smoke management is more difficult to achieve. The possible solutions are quite a few and embody a combination of active and passive features similar to but not limited to: 1) smoke barrier walls and floors, 2) stairway pressurization systems, 3) pressurized zoned smoke control offered by the air-handling tools, and 4) smoke dampers. The resolution applied into the design needs to address the constructing itself, its uses, related occupant traits and reliability.
First Service Issues

It goes with out saying that tall buildings current unique challenges to the hearth service. During the planning and design phases, it’s important for the design group to work with the fire service to debate the sort of assets which may be needed for an incident and the actions that shall be needed to mitigate an incident. This includes growing development and post-construction preplans. These preplans should embrace and not be limited to creating provisions for 1) hearth service entry including transport to the highest stage of the building, 2) establishing a water provide, 3) standpipe techniques (temporary and permanent), 4) communication methods, and 5) understanding the operations of the fireplace safety techniques within the building.
One of the challenges the fire service faces during incidents in tall buildings is the ability of firefighters to move equipment to the incident location. Designers ought to take into account how the fireplace service can transport its equipment from the response degree to the best stage in a safe manner.
Additionally, care must be taken when designing the hearth command center as it’ll provide the fire service command staff with important information about the incident. The fireplace command center needs to be accessible and should include 1) controls for constructing systems, 2) contact data for building management, 3) present buildings plans, 4) emergency response and egress plans and 5) preplans.
1 International Code Council/SFPE. (2013). Engineering Guide: Fire Safety for Very Tall Buildings. Country Club Hills, IL.
2 SFPE. (2011). SFPE Standard S.01 2011, Engineering Standards on Calculating Fire Exposures to Structures. Gaithersburg, Maryland.
three SFPE. 2015). SFPE Standard S.02 2015, SFPE Engineering Standard on Calculation Methods to Predict the Thermal Performance of Structural and Fire Resistive Assemblies. Gaithersburg, Maryland.

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