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High-Rise Building Disasters…………….

What is a high-rise building?

  • A fully-engineered structure.
  • Reinforced concrete or steel frame.
  • NFPA: >6 storey’s (25m); underwriters: >9st. (36m).
  • Higher than longest aerial ladder.
  • A single high-rise contain 50,000 people.

 

Risks- Earthquake

  • Total or partial collapse of building.
  • Collapse of exit stairs.
  • Collapse of façade or glass on exterior.
  • Foundation Failure.
  • Damage to interior fittings.

 

Risks- Hurricane

  • Racking (swaying distortion).
  • Loss of window glass (racking, ballistic impact, wind pressure, faulty installation.
  • Wind and water damage inside the building.

 

Fire protection- design and construction measures

  • Stairs and stairwell design: fire-protected.
  • Floors, columns, interior fire-walls of 4-hour, fire-resistant construction.
  • Vertical window spacing limits ability of fire to spread up outside.
  • Lifts return to lobby when alarm activates.

 

Fire Protection- Safety Systems

  • Automatic pressurized sprinkler systems.
  • Water pumps and wet stand-pipe systems.
  • Air conditioners vent smoke from building.
  • Back-up electrical systems.
  • “Smart” alarm systems (addressable, transmitting).

 

Fire Protection- Human Systems

  • Trained fire wardens and deputies on each floor.
  • Regular fire drills for all building users.
  • Maintenance detects poor workmanship and removes flammable materials.

 

At the scene…

  • Specific alert procedures.
  • Triage point at one exit: emergency vehicles and equipment directed here.
  • Specialized triage tags for victims.
  • Secondary triage point for lightly injured: buses to get them there.
  • Pre-designated transport routs to hospitals.

 

At the Mortuary

  • Mass-casualty facilities and plan.
  • Specific coroner’s autopsy arrangements.
  • Plans for notifying next-of-kin and identifying bodies.

 

Grenfell Tower

  • To save money, the richest borough in the land housed some of its citizens in actually dangerous conditions.
  • Emergency response across London is not uniformly good.
  • In the UK, there is deep, highly politicized resistance to the introduction and prosecution of safety measures.
  • Security seems to be more important than safety.

 

 

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