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Fire Safety Challenges in High-Rise Office Buildings


High-rise buildings present unique fire safety challenges to employees. Employers have a responsibility to help ensure the safety of workers in high-rise buildings in the event of fire or other disaster. When a fire strikes a high-rise office building, employees and first responders may have to contend with the following:

  • Longer distances to outside exits
  • Crowded staircases
  • Complicated evacuation plans
  • Unanticipated movement of fire and smoke

Fire marshals and other local authorities inspect buildings to ensure they are up to code, including proper maintenance and testing of fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and backup generators. However, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure workers are aware of the proper procedures to follow during an emergency. Tips for employers include the following:

  • Post the building evacuation plan in high-traffic areas
  • Require employees to routinely practice the escape plan for their floor and department
  • Give employees instructions regarding designated meeting places outside the building after an evacuation
  • Provide instructions for designated persons to account for all others in their group after an evacuation

Employers should also make sure that doorways, halls, stairways, and fire exits should never be blocked. The following general guidelines apply for evacuating a building in case of fire:

  • Never use the elevator
  • Stay as low as possible to avoid smoke inhalation
  • Follow prescribed evacuation plans
  • Check the door to see if it is hot before opening it
  • If you cannot exit, call 911 to report your exact location
  • Stay by the window and signal for help using a flashlight or cloth

Preparation is key. Make sure you know your building’s evacuation plan and participate in all fire drills. If you live in an apartment building, find out the safety features in your building and coordinate with neighbors about an evacuation plan.

If you or someone you love was injured at work, you may be eligible for compensation. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Gross & Kenny, LLP are dedicated to helping workers obtain the maximum benefits allowed by law. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our online form or call us at 267-589-0090. We serve injured workers across the state of Pennsylvania from our Philadelphia office.