Learning Objectives (1 of 18)
• Describe the magnitude of the high-rise
fire problem in terms of number of fires,
number of fire fatalities, and property loss.
• Explain the effect the loss of life and
property at the World Trade Center on
September 11, 2001 has on the statistical
analysis of high-rise fires in relation to loss
of life and property in high-rise buildings.
Learning Objectives (2 of 18)
• Define a high-rise building from a fire
• Explain elevator recall and its
advantages during a fire emergency.
• Enumerate the responsibilities of lobby
• Explain why using an elevator during a
fire emergency is a calculated risk.
Learning Objectives (3 of 18)
• List and discuss the seven rules for
safety when using an elevator during a
high-rise structure fire.
• Describe the process of using an
elevator under fire department control.
• Explain the duties of stairway support
and when it should be used.
Learning Objectives (4 of 18)
• Compute the number of fire fighters
needed to staff stairway support for a
fire on the 30th floor of a high-rise
building where the elevators are unsafe
• Identify negative and positive aspects of
using helicopters at a high-rise building
Learning Objectives (5 of 18)
• Construct a chart showing the angle of
deflection for fire streams operated from
the exterior into an upper floor of a high-
• Compute the approximate pump
discharge pressure needed to supply a
hose stream operating on the 20th floor.
Learning Objectives (6 of 18)
• List four occupancy types that are
commonly found in high-rise buildings.
• List five special considerations when
developing a pre-plan for a high-rise
• Compare old-style tower construction to
modern, planar-style high-rise buildings.
Learning Objectives (7 of 18)
• Define and explain the advantages of a
• Discuss methods that can be used to
maximize the limited stairway capacity
in a high-rise building and how fire
department operations can hinder
Learning Objectives (8 of 18)
• Describe an EVAC system and identify
the advantages and disadvantages as
compared with other notification
• Explain the difficulties in determining
the location of the fire from the exterior
of a high-rise building.
Learning Objectives (9 of 18)
• Develop a high-rise decision tree with
decision points addressing fire location,
size, and elevator availability.
• Explain how heat affects smoke
movement in a high-rise building.
Learning Objectives (10 of 18)
• Define stack effect and explain the
conditions necessary for positive and
negative stack effect.
• Explain how wind affects the neutral
• Discuss the importance of
extinguishment to life safety in a high-
Learning Objectives (11 of 18)
• Explain what is meant by a “wrap-
• Describe the hazards involved in
ventilating upper floors by removing
window glass and how to protect fire
fighters and civilians on the street
Learning Objectives (12 of 18)
• List pathways for floor-to-floor fire
extension in a high-rise building.
• Define “lead time” and extrapolate the
estimated lead time for a fire on the
40th floor of a high-rise building when
elevators are unavailable.
Learning Objectives (13 of 18)
• List practical forms of non-radio
communication that can be used at a
high-rise building fire.
• Discuss when interior and exterior
staging would be used at a high-rise
Learning Objectives (14 of 18)
• List the duties of the interior staging
• List the duties of lobby control.
• Compare and contrast factors that
affected fire operations at the One
Meridian Plaza fire in Philadelphia and
at the First Interstate Bank Building fire
in Los Angeles.
Learning Objectives (15 of 18)
• Evaluate the number of possible fire
deaths in a high-rise building at the
Peachtree Plaza fire in Atlanta based
on the number of actual civilian fire
deaths and probable deaths had the fire
been on a higher floor.
Learning Objectives (16 of 18)
• Explain the negative effects of operating
an exterior stream into a high-rise
• Compare the designed “accidental
aircraft” impact at the World Trade
Center to the actual impact of the
aircraft on September 11, 2001.
Learning Objectives (17 of 18)
• Describe the conditions leading to
structural collapse at the World Trade
• Describe how a “convergence cluster”
could affect search-and-rescue
operations at a high-rise building.
Learning Objectives (18 of 18)
• Evaluate operations at a simulated
high-rise fire in your response area.
• Size-up, develop an incident action
plan, assign units to carry out the plan,
and develop a NIMS organization for a
simulated high-rise fire scenario.
Overview (1 of 2)
• High-rise fires represent an extraordinary
• The chance of rescuing victims from the
exterior is near zero once the fire is above the
reach of aerial apparatus.
• Tactics and strategies are the same that
apply to any other structure fire.
– With considerations because of the height of the
Overview (2 of 2)
• The overall number of fires, civilian fire
deaths, and property loss seems to be
– Probably due to more buildings being
• A sprinkler-protected building is a safer
building for fire fighters and occupants.
– However, fire departments should not
place total reliance on the sprinkler system.
• Incident scope can be reduced through
pre-planning and code enforcement.
• Special tactics will be needed to control
• Use of NIMS and high-rise SOPs can
ensure successful operations.
• Most codes define a high-rise in terms
of height and/or stories.
• Fire departments think of a high-rise as
being beyond the reach of available
• Logistics and access problems increase
– The more floors above the fire, the more
people are likely to need assistance, and
the more fuel there is to burn.
Fire Fighter Safety (1 of 2)
• Risk increases in proportion to the
height of the building and the height of
the fire above grade level.
• Interior stairs are the only means of
egress available for fires above the
reach of aerial apparatus.
Fire Fighter Safety (2 of 2)
• Good tactics and safety cannot be
• An assignment in which a crew is
responsible for duties related to
managing the stairways, elevators, and
the HVAC systems
Fire Fighters’ Use of Elevators
• Fire-ground logistics will be improved if
fire fighters can safely use elevators.
• Department SOPs should address:
– Circumstances safe/unsafe use
– Alternative measures for getting needed
equipment to the fire floor when elevators
cannot be safely used
• Calculated risk; should be avoided
unless it will substantially improve
• Use stairways for fires on lower levels.
• Only used under the close supervision
of lobby control
• Divided into several zones to allow
access to specific floors of the building
• Should be included in pre-plan
• A safety feature designed to send
elevators to ground level when the fire
alarm is activated
• Elevators remain locked at the ground
level until fire fighters arrive and use a
key to place the elevators on fire
Safety Rules (1 of 2)
• Do not use an elevator of questionable
safety or for a fire on a lower level.
• Never take an elevator directly to the
fire floor or above.
• Place the elevators under independent
(fire department) control.
• Control all elevator cars in multiple
Safety Rules (2 of 2)
• Never overcrowd elevators.
• Wear personal protective clothing,
including SCBA, and bring forcible entry
• Send equipment rather than fire fighters
• One or more fire fighters on every other
– Shuttle equipment up through the building
• Used when using elevators is not safe
• One of the first assignments given
when the fire is on the upper floors in a
building without elevator service
Life Safety (1 of 2)
• A method of indicating areas searched
should be part of the department’s high-
• Rescue and extinguishment teams
should carry tools to force entry when
Life Safety (2 of 2)
• The primary search should assure that
all elevators are accounted for and
checked for occupants.
Helicopter Use (1 of 2)
• Extremely dangerous, often
• Requires constant training and
• Can be used for rescue or
Helicopter Use (2 of 2)
• Can create additional risks due to
• Risk-benefit analysis must be
• Can be decided upon in advance
• IC may decide it is best to defend-in-
• Depends on available fixed fire
• Only the occupants in affected areas
are evacuated from the building.
– Others are told to remain in place.
• Any time a decision is made to leave
occupants inside a burning building, the
IC is taking a calculated risk.
• The IC is depending on:
– Construction features
– Fixed fire suppression systems
– Manual suppression efforts
EVACS (1 of 2)
• Emergency Voice/Alarm
– Uses recorded messages to notify
occupants of a fire
– Provides specific directions for reaching
places of safe refuge within the building
EVACS (2 of 2)
• Will also have manual overrides that
allow fire fighters or building
management to direct the evacuation
• Exterior defensive fire control tools are
ineffective above the 8th floor.
• Smooth-bore or low-pressure nozzles
should be used.
• Reduction in friction loss = increase in
• System pressure can be boosted and
water supply increased by pumping into
fire department connection.
• Lobby may not be preferred location.
– Should be isolated from disruption and
protected from fire and products of
• Location should provide good
communications and ample work
• Location should be communicated to all
• Should address:
– Elevator operations and elevator key location
– Access/egress issues
– Standpipe operations
– Floor layouts for each floor
– Ventilation concerns (e.g., HVAC system, special
– Procedures or operations that are unique to the
High-Rise Construction (1 of 2)
• Old style high-rise tower design
– Heavy masonry construction
– Seldom sprinklered
– Better compartments
High-Rise Construction (2 of 2)
• New style high-rise planar design
– Structural steel frame
– May be sprinklered
– May be core construction
– Central HVAC
Central Core Layout
• Stairways are located in the center of
the building (usually found in new-style
Side Core Layout
• Stairways are located away from the
center of the building.
• A stairway designed to be separated
from the building by a landing
– Built as a separate structure
– Creates a separation that will limit the
spread of smoke into the stairway
– Keeps stairway clear for evacuation
– Could be pressurized to reduce chance of
High-Rise Size-Up (1 of 2)
• Very difficult due to nonexistent or
misleading visual information
– Finding the fire can be difficult.
– Fire can be present without any visual
– Exterior visible evidence may be
High-Rise Size-Up (2 of 2)
• Occupant reports may be unreliable.
– Often located many floors above the fire
Life Hazard Potential (1 of 2)
• The IC must match the occupancy
classification to time factors.
• Working hours vs. non-business hours
– Occupant load varies greatly
Life Hazard Potential (2 of 2)
• The average office building has one
person for every 100 ft2 (9 m2).
• Pre-planning aids in determining the life
Dispatch Information (1 of 2)
• Validity depends on alarm type.
• Follow-up calls from the public repeat
and verify information already received:
– Reporting people trapped
– Requesting evacuation instructions
– Report fire conditions in specific areas of
Dispatch Information (2 of 2)
• This information should be immediately
relayed to the IC.
– The IC should notify the appropriate
personnel to evaluate the situation.
• Affected by weather conditions and fire
• Fire intensity and size
– Determine the extent gases are heated
and how high they will rise inside the
– Heat energy in low structures causes
gases to rise to highest level of building.
– Gases stratify in high-rise buildings at a
point of equilibrium.
• The vertical airflow caused by
temperature differences within and
outside the building
• Results in unpredictable behavior of
• Chances of stratification are less on a
cold day versus warm day.
Neutral Pressure Plane (NPP)
• The point in a high-rise where air is
neither moving in or out.
– Below the NPP, air is moving into the
– Above the NPP, air is moving out of the
• The NPP is affected by heat from the
fire, the stack effect, and wind.
Incident Action Plan
• Incident priorities remain the same regardless
of the type of structure.
– Life safety
– Property conservation
• In a high-rise, ventilation and evacuation
options are limited, so confining and
extinguishing the fire is critical.
• Fire fighters may be trying to advance
up while occupants are attempting to
• It is not always best to have all of the
occupants in the stairways at the same
– People on the fire floor and floor above are
in the greatest danger and should be
Ventilation (1 of 3)
• Should be done by using reversible
– Breaking windows high above grade level
creates a serious hazard below.
• Opening a window is much preferred to
– If a window is opened and the effect is
negative, it can be closed.
Ventilation (2 of 3)
• Most high-rise buildings have sealed
windows that cannot be opened.
– Fire codes may require that a percentage
of the windows be operable or made of
tempered glass so that manual ventilation
– This should be noted on the pre-incident
Ventilation (3 of 3)
• The operation of the HVAC system is
– Should be shut down if the HVAC system
does not have the desired effect or
spreads the smoke
• All floors above the fire are exposures
and need to be checked for extension.
• In modern buildings with curtain walls,
fire can extend upward inside the
building near the exterior wall.
• Fire also can spread upward through:
– Stairways and elevator shafts
– Pipe chases and utility penetrations
• Should be considered early in the
• High-rise office buildings may contain
– Computers and other office equipment
– Important files and documents
• The greatest property conservation
exposure is often downward.
• ICs must understand that it takes time
to complete assignments.
• Lead time is impacted greatest by the
level where the fire occurs, especially
when elevators are not available.
• The IC must be able to anticipate needs
and assign resources in advance.
• NIMS should be used at every structure
• Proper use of NIMS tests a
department’s training, pre-incident
planning, and discipline.
• The span of control can be quickly
exceeded at a major high-rise fire.
Communications (1 of 2)
• Simplified by use of NIMS
• Division: used to identify a geographic
location or assignment
Communications (2 of 2)
• Most frequently cited problem at major
– Breakdown may occur if separate
frequencies or systems are not provided.
• High-rise buildings make radio use
Base: Exterior Staging (1 of 2)
• A location where support equipment
and personnel are kept on the exterior
of the building
– Can also be called exterior staging
Base: Exterior Staging (2 of 2)
• May be established near the fire
– Generally limited to fires on lower floors
• The staging area is normally moved
inside the structure during a high-rise
Interior Staging (1 of 2)
• Established to provide a readily
available reserve force
• Normally two or more floors below the
• The interior staging area could be
identified as interior staging or as the
Interior Staging (2 of 2)
• Can be the site for a REHAB area
Staging Officer Duties (1 of 2)
• Reports to the operations section
• Maintains records of the companies
• Maintains reserve personnel
• Requests additional resources
Staging Officer Duties (2 of 2)
• Maintains an adequate supply of air
cylinders and other equipment
• Supplies first aid equipment and
Lobby Control Duties (1 of 2)
• Controls, operates, and accounts for all
• Assists in incident command post
• Locates and controls all interior stairs
Lobby Control Duties (2 of 2)
• Directs incoming companies to the
proper elevator or stairway
• Consults with the building engineer
• Controls the HVAC system
Summary (1 of 6)
• The threat from high-rise fires is real.
• The chance of a serious fire is much
greater in the non-sprinkler-protected,
Summary (2 of 6)
• Older buildings are constructed using
massive structural members to support
the structure and to provide fire barriers
within the structure.
• A working fire in a high-rise can
threaten thousands of occupants.
Summary (3 of 6)
• The most effective way to extinguish a
high-rise fire is by mounting an
• Attacking the fire from the exterior
places fire fighters and occupants who
are still inside the building in great peril.
Summary (4 of 6)
• Using fire resistive structural features to
contain the fire is preferable to an
• Fires on the upper floors of a high-rise
building will often be beyond the reach
of aerial devices.
Summary (5 of 6)
• Occupant evacuation is usually limited
to the interior stairs that can quickly
• As the level of the fire floor increases,
reliance on the standpipe system also
Summary (6 of 6)
• Getting resources to the places they are
needed is complicated.
• The lead time dramatically increases for
a fire on an upper floor if the elevator is
not safe to use.