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High rise fire - Alarm never sounded

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High rise fire - Alarm never sounded

Old 05-03-2018, 05:25 AM
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Default High rise fire - Alarm never sounded

If a high rise building were to catch on fire, wouldn't you not expect an alarm to go off inside the building?

I started a new job a couple weeks back. Working downtown on the 30th floor in a high rise. Walked out of my office following a conference call. Heading for the restroom, I notice there's almost no one on the floor. Seemed odd. Just as I was about to enter the restroom, a guy coming the other way said he'd heard from someone that we were supposed to evacuate the building. I did notice a smell of something electrical burning, but didn't think much of it. There was no alarm sounded or any announcement made over the PA up to this point. Headed back to my office to get my stuff, then walked to the elevator. Still no alarm or announcement. Elevators are shut down. I think to myself, oh there really is something going on. Headed for the stairway. When I opened the door to the stairway, it was full of people heading down the stairs. Still no alarm, no announcement, no one from security making sure people are evacuating. Nothing. Get down to the ground floor, and there are fire fighters everywhere going past us as we are exiting. Go outside and there are fire trucks everywhere.

Next day i come to learn that the building was indeed on fire. 22nd floor. Firefighters put it out.

But the whole time that was going on there was never an alarm or announcement.

The topic came up at lunch yesterday. Someone said they had heard the reason for there not being an alarm was that someone called 911 about the fire, but no one alerted security.

Huh?

I don't know. I'm still scratching my head over this.
Old 05-03-2018, 06:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Brad1 View Post
If a high rise building were to catch on fire, wouldn't you not expect an alarm to go off inside the building?
Absolutely!!! If the fire dept had already responded to a real fire and there was still no fire alarm, that is doubly bad.

Question is- if there was no alarm, but the staircase was filled with people getting out of the building, how did they know?
Old 05-03-2018, 06:48 AM
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Alarm should have gone off as soon as evac order was placed.Has to be heard from every location.Fire Inspector will get involved .Down here it’s a big violation.Good thing you had to pee .
Old 05-03-2018, 07:07 AM
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In my buildings we are required to test 100% of strobes and alarms once a year.

In high rises such as yours, the system is so segregated a small fire that trips one small section will not set whole building off.

Again in that size they have speakers and they should have set a verbal heads up.
Old 05-03-2018, 07:35 AM
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For your own safety maybe? Higher up floors could not get past the floor on fire so stay put. Or too many people in the stairwells at one time causing a jam so they stagger the alarms. Just spitballing here, but definitely an issue in my mind.
Old 05-03-2018, 07:59 AM
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I would check with you life safety folks from your company.
Either an issue or maybe because event was on 22 and you were on 30 and event was not big enough to evacuate entire bldg. Your colleagues self evacuated? Or maybe by the time your floor was evacuated the event was under control?
Not sure here, just thinking out loud.
Worked in NY and NJ high rises for a while and there is usually a method to the madness. Local fire and code requirements are pretty strict.
Having said that, it sure could habe been a massive screw up .
Probably good to ask somebody for your own knowlledge and future expecations

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Old 05-03-2018, 08:19 AM
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Typically in a high rise the alarm is only required to ring on the floor of the alarm and 1 floor above and 1 below
Old 05-03-2018, 08:33 AM
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Get a lawyer. You are scarred for life (emotionally). Should be worth about $250,000 if you settle out of court.
Old 05-03-2018, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Fish Haid View Post
Get a lawyer. You are scarred for life (emotionally). Should be worth about $250,000 if you settle out of court.
No chance I'd win that one. Too easy for their attornies to prove I was already emotionally scarred way before then.
Old 05-04-2018, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by joestina View Post
Typically in a high rise the alarm is only required to ring on the floor of the alarm and 1 floor above and 1 below
Yes, in a fire proof high rise building, it is the fire floor plus one floor above and below typically. If they evacuated everyone, it would be chaos and scary thing is probably take an hour for everyone to get down the stairs and out due to stairwell congestion. I worked in downtown manhattan shortly after 9/11 and they did a full building evacuation drill, I was on a middle floor, and IIRC it took me 45 minutes to get out because of the congestion. Higher floors took even longer. Some times leaving the floor when you would be OK from the fire proofing leads to death / injury due to smoke filling a stair well etc. Watch a youtube video on fire safety in high rises. Sounds like you / your floor needs to attend a fire drill...

Last edited by mystery; 05-04-2018 at 07:06 AM.
Old 05-04-2018, 09:23 AM
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I work on the 21st floor of a high rise. I also spent a decade as a firefighter before going into the office world.

In my office -

1. A Scott SKA pack escape SCBA. 5 minute breathing time.
2. Two different ultra bright flashlights, one LED and one incandescent. (It's impossible to see in smoke with an LED, conventional lights work much better).
3. A complete bug out bag and a pair of outdoor sneakers, with supplies to let me hike the 13 miles to my house if necessary.
4. A gas mask (as I work in NYC).

I have considered an office escape parachute -- yes, they exist -- but on the 21st floor I don't have enough altitude to deploy it. Instead I am thinking about bringing in a harness and rappelling line to allow me to get down to a lower floor in the event of fire.
Old 05-04-2018, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by C3D View Post
I work on the 21st floor of a high rise. I also spent a decade as a firefighter before going into the office world.

In my office -

1. A Scott SKA pack escape SCBA. 5 minute breathing time.
2. Two different ultra bright flashlights, one LED and one incandescent. (It's impossible to see in smoke with an LED, conventional lights work much better).
3. A complete bug out bag and a pair of outdoor sneakers, with supplies to let me hike the 13 miles to my house if necessary.
4. A gas mask (as I work in NYC).

I have considered an office escape parachute -- yes, they exist -- but on the 21st floor I don't have enough altitude to deploy it. Instead I am thinking about bringing in a harness and rappelling line to allow me to get down to a lower floor in the event of fire.


Some firms give out an emergency kit to each employee but typically falls short
Old 05-04-2018, 02:23 PM
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Originally Posted by C3D View Post
I work on the 21st floor of a high rise. I also spent a decade as a firefighter before going into the office world.

In my office -

1. A Scott SKA pack escape SCBA. 5 minute breathing time.
2. Two different ultra bright flashlights, one LED and one incandescent. (It's impossible to see in smoke with an LED, conventional lights work much better).
3. A complete bug out bag and a pair of outdoor sneakers, with supplies to let me hike the 13 miles to my house if necessary.
4. A gas mask (as I work in NYC).

I have considered an office escape parachute -- yes, they exist -- but on the 21st floor I don't have enough altitude to deploy it. Instead I am thinking about bringing in a harness and rappelling line to allow me to get down to a lower floor in the event of fire.
That's some pretty cool insight. And thank you for your time spent as a firefighter. Genuinely appreciate what firefighters do. Incredibly brave people you are.

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