When it comes to fire safety, two types of buildings need some extra attention: high-rise and high-risk buildings. What do these terms exactly mean? And what should you bear in mind to ensure optimum safety?
What is a high-rise building?
Height is an important factor in fire safety. The definition of what constitutes a high-rise building differs per European country. In Germany, the limit for high-rise buildings is 22 metres and above, in the UK it’s 18 metres and above, in Belgium it’s 25 metres and above etc. No matter what the exact limit is, it remains indisputable that risks increase when the height of a building is at a certain level.
Fire safety risks in high-rise buildings
Escaping from tall buildings is more complicated and takes more time compared to a single-family house with only one floor. Not only do high-rises have more inhabitants or people that work in them, normal houses also have more escape routes (windows, doors) and are therefore easier to escape when a fire occurs.
Using combustible materials on a building that is, for instance, 15 metres tall and thus not generally recognised as a high-rise, greatly enlarges the risks in the event of a fire and can have a catastrophic outcome.
New regulations for fire safety
Often high-rise limits are based upon possibilities for fire fighters to reach the fire via ladders or other equipment. With the rapid changes in the building environment, these methods cannot always be applied and by this the limits are part of the debate in defining new regulations for fire safety.