What do you do if there’s a fire in your high-rise building?

(Image: Shutterstock)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Where do you live or work? In a high-rise building, it is a long way up. This is only a 10-story building and take a look at how far up it is. You won’t survive if you have to jump, so how do you get out? What is your best bet?

Firefighters, head lights and sirens head to one of the taller buildings in downtown Hartford.

After seeing the deadly fire in the high-rise building in London yesterday, it’s on people’s minds.

“What were you thinking when you saw the video?” “Horrified. Absolutely horrifying.”

Donna Estabrook has worked in high-rise buildings for the majority of her career. She watched a video of the fire in London where 12 people were killed and it is something she thinks about.

“I used to work in City Place and I was much more fearful. I was on the 30th floor and our safe floor was the 22nd floor. Trust me, I didn’t feel safe on the 22nd floor,” she said.

Firefighters say they train on high-rise buildings. With modern buildings, there are fire protections like fire alarms, pipe stands and sprinkler systems, but as Estabrook knows, you have to know all of the emergency exits and which one is the best to use.

“It is drilled into us. We have many fire drills, many times throughout the year. There are several stairwells throughout the building so we have more than one opportunity to get out,” she said.

Firefighters say no matter what, you should never take the elevator in case of a fire. There are a couple reasons why. The elevators are too small to evacuate anyone in a timely manner. More importantly, the elevator shaft acts like a chimney trying to heat and smoke straight up through the elevator car. If you were inside and that happens, Battalion Chief John Sokolowski of the West Hartford Fire Department says it’s a fatal place to be.

“It will go up and out the path of least resistance and smoke will transfer through those vertical shafts in the building…so you can get smoked out if you’re in an elevator, you potentially could,” he said.

Another problem with the elevators is that they are tied into the alarm and sprinkler systems. When the alarms go off, Chief Sokolowski says the elevators stop working.

“Generally what ends up happening is that the alarm systems that are set up on elevators will recall them down to the first floor of the building. So you won’t have the availability of the elevator. You’re sitting there, pushing buttons and no elevator is coming. Correct,” he said.

Another important thing to remembers is that if you’re in a hotel, there is an evacuation chart on the back of your door. You should really take a minute to look at it because if it’s really smoky and there’s a fire in an unfamiliar building, you may even have to count doors to exit to the stairwell.


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