A Guide to High-rise Building Safety

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High-rise buildings present unique challenges when it comes to the area of fire safety. In most buildings, those inside will only need to travel down a flight or two of stairs to get to safety, if they have to travel down any flights of stairs at all. In a high-rise building, however, people might need to travel down several flights of stairs to get to ground level and out the door.

Even so, there are many misconceptions about high-rise building safety that, once disproven, will make the issue much more clear. Here are six fire safety tips for those living and working in high-rise buildings.

1. Stairways Stay Safe

 The first misconception when it comes to high-rise building safety is that even the stairways will be dangerous during a fire. In reality, high-rise buildings are designed to be as fire resistant as possible, and this especially extends to the buildings’ stairways. Most high-rise fires end up becoming contained to one specific apartment or floor while the stairways remain unaffected. As a result, an individual’s top priority when faced with a high-rise fire is to seek the nearest stairway immediately.

2. Be Sure to Call 911

 One common mistake that people make in cases of high-rise fires is assuming that someone else has already called 911. It’s far better to assume that someone has already called and then call anyway than to assume someone has called when they actually haven’t.

This way, you can potentially prevent the spread of the fire and even help others who might be trapped. If you’re calling on a cell phone, you can even call while making your way to safety.



3. Don’t Panic

 Your first instinct will likely be to leave immediately. While this is understandable, it isn’t always the safest thing to do. If you know that a fire is burning and are about to leave your apartment, feel the door with the back of your hand. If your door feels warm or hot to the touch within five seconds, this indicates a dangerous fire condition in your corridor. You’ll want to get a wet towel and seal the cracks in the door where the smoke is entering into your apartment and inform the authorities of the situation as well as where you’re located. Try to breathe normally and stay calm; staying calm during an emergency can save your life and the lives of those around you.

4. Move Quickly but Safely

 Natural human instinct will make you want to run out of your apartment as soon as possible, but there are certain steps you should take before leaving. If your apartment door is not warm or hot to the touch, it’s safe for you to crack open the door and check for the presence of smoke in your corridor. If the corridor is safe, you should alert everyone on the rest of your floor of the presence of the fire. You should close your apartment door without locking it and then carefully make your way to the nearest stairway. Under no circumstances should you use the elevators.

5. Know Your Building

 No two high-rise buildings are alike. It’s important that you learn the layout and fire safety plan in your building before you find yourself in a dangerous situation. There will most likely be fire hose adapters and fittings located somewhere within your building as well as fire extinguishers, exits, and stairways.

Knowing your building can be the difference between life and death. Maps and other information should be available in all high-rise buildings, and this will give you the opportunity to study the layout of your building so that you’ll be better prepared should a fire safety issue arise in the future.

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6. Stay Fire Safe

 The key to fire safety is having a proper contingency plan, being prepared, and having the ability to stay calm even in a stressful situation. No one is ever expecting a high-rise fire, but there are things that you can do to ensure that you are as prepared as possible for one. This way, you can notify the authorities, alert others in your high-rise building about the fire, and get to safety.

If you take the necessary steps toward preparing for the possibility of a high-rise building fire, you will be that much more able to respond appropriately should the situation ever occur. Being prepared and vigilant are the keys to fire safety.

Author Bio:

 Alfonso Gonzalez is a freelance writer based in Malibu, California. He spent 25 years in the construction industry, working roofing, plumbing, electrical, and more before retiring. In his free time, he likes to work on home repair projects.

Firefighters Say Residential Sprinklers Could Get SC Out of Top 10 States for Fire Death

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Firefighters say that fire sprinklers could help South Carolina's dire statistics.  South Carolina is a leading state for fire-related deaths.  

A recent fire showed that fire sprinklers make a huge difference.  An apartment caught fire in Beaufort, SC, when firefighters arrived four minutes after the call, the fire was extinguished and no one was injured.  In fact, firefighters didn't have much to do.  They mopped up some water and called it a day.

"We've seen buildings that don't have sprinkler systems and buildings that do have sprinkler systems.  It's quite a relief to get on a scene, see all those families evacuating, which was a good thing, and be able to go in there, and know that it's just a small, essentially a mop up operation," said Daniel Byrne with the Burton Fire District.



As an example of what can happen when there aren't sprinkler systems, Byrne explained a fire he worked on at another apartment complex.

"We had a major fire at the Mossy Oaks Village apartment complex a number of years ago, several families were displaced.  It started as a fire in a closet and just grew out of control.  There was no sprinkler system and they lost the building."

South Carolina opted to not require fire sprinklers in apartment buildings.

Byrne continued, "That frustrates us at the firefighter level because not only are we watching families become homeless, not only do we see the injuries and deaths, but we're putting our lives at risk going in to put out a fire that technology and codes could have eliminated before it even really got started."

3-Alarm Fire Breaks Out on Nike Campus

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Portland, OR -- A 3-alarm fire broke out at the Nike campus, bringing 65 firefighters from 3 different fire departments.

The Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue sent out a press release, saying that no one was injured in the three-alarm fire.  The fire started in the Beaverton warehouse at 3:30pm on Monday, January 22.


When firefighters arrived, fire was venting from the sides of the roll-up doors.

The building was 25,000 square feet according to LT Ryan Stenhouse.  The fire was mainly in the middle of the warehouse.


The crews worked the fire for 40 minutes before calling a 2-alarm fire and then a 3-alarm fire.

It took a full hour for firefighters to search the warehouse because of all the materials on fire.  Firefighters were able to confirm that no one was inside when the fire broke out.

The news release said that the warehouse had fire alarms, but it is unknown if there were fire sprinklers.   

The Night America Burned - Fires in History: Peshtigo, WI Fire

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What does the ancient city of Pompeii and a small lumber town in Wisconsin have in common?

Warning Signs.  Time to evacuate.  Fast moving disaster.

Read our fire in history feature on the Peshtigo, WI fire and learn how this small town is reminiscent of the 79AD tourist town of Pompeii.

The Scene

On Sunday, October 8, 1871 - the same day as the Great Chicago Fire - a control burn was taking place in Peshtigo, WI.  At the time, Peshtigo was a logging town near Green Bay with a small population of less than 1,200 people.

A terrible drought was plaguing the Midwest the entire summer and into the fall in 1871.  The day of the fire, winds were high with an incoming storm.  While the rain was much needed, the wind was the catalyst in this disaster.  

Related:  Fire in History - Beverly Hills Supper Club

The Fire

When the winds (110 MPH) came in, the control burn was no longer being controlled.  It immediately swept through the town of wood buildings, forest, and wooden sidewalks.  Witnesses were recorded as saying that when the fire swept through, it sounded like a train.

The fire traveled through the forest, burning 1.5 million acres of land through Wisconsin and Michigan.  It became the worst forest fire in North American history. 

The fire became a fire whirl (fire tornado), throwing rail cars and houses into the air.


While Peshtigo wasn't the only town affected by the fire, it was the only one that was nearly destroyed.

Reverend Peter Pernin recounted that during the fire the survivors flocked to the bodies of water nearby.  Pernin waded in a river all night with several other people.

Pernin explains his experience in the river:

"The flames darted over the river as they did over land.  The air was full of [flames], or, rather, the air itself was on fire.  Our heads were in continual danger.  It was only by throwing water constantly over them and our faces, and beating the river with our hands that we kept the flames at bay.  Not far from me, a woman was supporting herself in the water with a log.  After a time, a cow swam past.  There was more than a dozen animals in the river, impelled by instinct, and they succeeded in saving their lives.  The [cow] overturned the log to which the woman was clinging and she disappeared into the water.  I thought her lost, but soon saw her emerge from [the river] holding on with one hand to the horns of the cow, and throwing water on herself with the other [hand]."

The next morning, the townspeople emerged from the river, looking like zombies, searching for family.   

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The Aftermath

In the end, the fire killed between 1,500 and 2,500 people through Wisconsin and Michigan.  However, 1,000 of the victims were from Peshtigo, which was hit the worst.

The fire overtook the town and the only means of communication available - a telegraph line.  No one could communicate.  The town had no fire crews, only a single horse-drawn fire cart.  No one knew of the fire for days.  Once the media learned of the fire, doctors started to come to the town to treat survivors.

Related:  Fires in History - Hartford Circus Fire

The Victims

This fire was a true tragedy in the town.  Families were found bound together by the fire.  A single tavern had 200 victims in it.  Some people couldn't take the thought of dying by fire and took action for themselves and their family.  Most of the people who flocked to the river, other bodies of water, and wells survived, but some died from hypothermia or drowning.  There were so many dead in Peshtigo that 350 people were buried in a mass grave because no one was alive to identify them.  

The End

The fire concluded when it reached the waters of Green Bay.  At that time, the winds died down and rain started to fall, ending the fire.

At the same time as the Peshtigo fire, other fires were destroying towns.  The Great Chicago fire and a fire in Door Peninsula happened on the same day.  The theory is that the drought, several control burns taking place, and high winds caused all of the fires.

This fire was one of the worst in American history, yet, not too many people know about it.  The Great Chicago Fire took over the media, even though the death toll was 350 versus 1,500-2,500.

Writer's note:  As I researched the Peshtigo fire, it reminded me of Pompeii.  Like Pompeii, the people of Peshtigo had signs that they should evacuate.  Peshtigo looked like it had snowed with ash for days before the fire grew out of control.  In Pompeii, the skies grew dark from the eruption and ash fell throughout the town, but it took a full day for the disaster to hit, giving citizens time to evacuate.  Just like Peshtigo's 110MPH wind storm causing the disaster, Pompeii had a 100MPH surge of superheated poison gas and pulverized rock.  Like the Peshtigo fire, the Mount Vesuvius volcano swallowed everything in its path - people and buildings alike.  


What fire in history interests you most?  Maybe we'll feature it on our next Fire in History blog.  Comment below.

Video: Why our Fire Sprinkler Customer Retention is Through the Roof

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We interviewed Colleen Obos, Sales Executive, and Mike Jankovich, designer about their opinions on why our customer retention is so high at F.E. Moran Fire Protection.

In our interview, Colleen and Mike explain why customers continue working with F.E. Moran Fire Protection and what drew them to their jobs there.

Check out this inside look into our fire protection contracting and service business.

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Top Blogs of 2017 in Fire Protection

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2017 is over.

Last year was a wild ride with a new president, North Korea testing nukes, cryptocurrencies ruled, and so much more.  The Moran Group had quite the year too.  They had their 60th anniversary!

To celebrate the new year, we are sharing our top posts from 2017.

1.  The Station Nightclub Fire

Our most popular post of the year was the Station Nightclub Fire blog and video.  In 2003, the worst nightclub fire to occur in the U.S. made headlines.  The pyrotechnics from an indoor concert caught sound proofing material on fire.  The fire killed 100 people and injured 200 people.

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2.  A Look Back:  1994 Logan Valley Mall Fire

Next up, our profile of the Logan Valley mall fire caught our readers interest as the second most viewed post.  In 1994, a fire at the mall damaged 42 stores.  It financially devastated several businesses.  The NFPA determined that the main cause of the devastation was the lack of fire sprinklers.

3.  What Do Property Managers Need to Know:  5 Year Fire Sprinkler Inspection

Our blog post about the much-misunderstood 5-year fire sprinkler inspection caught the attention of property managers.  The post even includes a 3-step video on what happens when an obstruction is found and a FREE e-course to learn more.

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4.  Wisconsin Fire Sprinkler Law Reverses in 24 Hours

In Madison, Wisconsin, a fire sprinkler law went into effect and then reversed within 24 hours.  The original post was written in February, and we wrote a follow up article on it last week.  Find out why the fire sprinkler rule will never be enforced.

5.  Sprinkler Douses Surgical Washer Fire at Hospital

A washer for surgical equipment caught fire, and was immediately put out when a fire sprinkler activated.  The heating element in the washer malfunctioned and overheated.  We wrote a follow up article showcasing the top causes for hospital fires.

That wraps up our top blog posts of 2017.  Tell us in the comments, what were your favorite posts from this year?  What fire sprinkler news sparked interest in you?

Wisconsin Can't Enforce Fire Sprinkler Rule for Small Apartments

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Before we get into our story today - a very happy New Years to you!  We hope that 2018 brings your joy, success, and satisfaction.

Wisconsin -- The Attorney General, Brad Schimel, said that the state cannot enforce a rule that was established in 2008 that required fire sprinklers be added to all new apartment buildings with three to twenty units.

The rule was established by the Department of Safety and Professional Services, and Schimel said that the rule goes beyond their authority.

"There is little question that the (opinion) will have a substantial impact on other rules and regulations involving the construction of new buildings and the state's building code, in general.  However, the analysis below is unavoidable," wrote Schimel.

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Related:  Owner of Everett Apartments Ordered to Install Fire Alarms

Madison, Wisconsin's Fire Chief and legislative liaison for the Wisconsin State Fire Chief's Association has called this ruling "extreme."  Amy Acton, Executive Director of the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors says that dropping this rule is going to put lives at risk.

In 2008, the state sprinkler rule went into effect for 3-20 unit buildings built after January 1, 2011.  The Wisconsin Builders Association challenged the rule.  The state Court of Appeals determined the agency had the authority to set the rule because they had a broader authority at the time.

Related:  Fire Sprinkler Stops Fire at Apartment Complex

Brad Boycks, the Wisconsin Builders Association Executive Director said that he opposes the sprinkler rule because it drives up the cost of constructing apartment complexes.

What is your opinion?

What matters more?  The cost of construction increasing or the possible loss of lives?  Comment below.



Happy Holidays from F.E. Moran Fire Protection!

Happy holidays from F.E. Moran Fire Protection!

A World of Good Wishes. 

One of the real joys this holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you and wish you the very best for the new year

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Four Residents Found Dead Following Retirement Home Fire

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A Pennsylvania retirement home, Barclay Friends, had a 5-alarm fire on November 16.  The flames reached 50 feet high and 400 responders arrived, according to the Philly Inquirer.  

It was a sad situatation, but brought the community together.  West Chester University students set up a temporary Red Cross shelter at the Ehringer Gym  This effort was headed by student and Friar Society member Joshua Dandridge.


The facility had 133 residents and 15 staff members evacuated.  

Related Article:  Littlefield Nursing Home Fire:  Fires in History

Approximately three weeks after the fire it came out that four residents died during this fire.  The victims were husband and wife, Delores Parker, 89, and Thomas Parker, 92.  Mildred Gadde, 93, and Theresa Mallory, 85 were the other two victims.  The cause of death for all four were smoke inhalation.

The retirement home did have fire sprinklers (Johnson Controls).  The company spokesperson said they are, "assisting authorities and currently gathering information to find out more details about the fire."

Related Article:  Des Plaines Nursing Home Case Study

This is an excerpt from Barclay Friends press release:

"As the day and weekend goes on, residents from Barclay Friends now dispersed over many different communities in and around Chester County will rest, begin to heal, and commence with the longer range planning to support more permanent transitions as they may be needed.”

The statement further read, “As we know more we will be sure to deliver updates. In the meantime, we are heartbroken by what’s befallen Barclay Friends and uplifted by the caring and generosity that surrounds them and us.”

How to Prevent a Christmas Tree Fire + a Christmas Tree Burn Test

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The NFSA recently completed a burn test, hosted by Assemblyman John Wisniewski.  He wanted to show the importance of handling Christmas trees effectively.  The U.S. averages 200 fires a year caused by Christmas trees.  

"This holiday season should be a time of joy, but each year preventable fires caused by Christmas trees and holiday decorations bring tragedy to families all across the country," said Wisniewski.  "However, there are simple steps everyone can take to prevent them."

According to the NFPA, this is what you should do when choosing a tree.

1.  Pick a fresh tree with green needles that do not fall off when touched.  You can also choose a fire resistant artificial tree. 

2.  Place the tree at least 3 feet away from a heat source such as a fireplace, stove, candle, radiator, or heating vent.  One in every four Christmas tree fires are from a heat source being too close to the tree, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

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3.  Add water to the tree stand daily.

4.  Make sure the tree does not block an exit.

5.  Use lights that have been independently tested in a laboratory and approved for what you are using them for - indoor or outdoor lights.

6.  Turn off Christmas lights when you leave the house or go to bed.

7.  Get rid of the tree right after Christmas.  Dried out trees are a major fire danger.

The American Christmas Tree Association says that live Christmas trees cause $13 million in damage annually from fires.  So, if you choose to go with a live tree, be safe and take the proper precautions.

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November's Fire Sprinkler Saves

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We are proud to be in the fire protection industry.  It is emphasized even more when we see fire sprinkler saves in the news.  What better reminder that fire sprinklers matter than to get a glimpse into the lives that have been spared thanks to fire sprinklers?

Here are our top five fire sprinkler saves from November.

1.  Fire Sprinkler Saves Apartment Building from Dryer Fire | November 27, 2017


A dryer fire activated fire sprinklers at a Kenosha apartment building.  The fire started inside the fire and spread to the laundry room until the fire sprinklers went off.

"Once it did enter the room, it came into contact with a sprinkler head, which set off the apartment's sprinkler system due to the heat.  It suppressed the fire," said Battalion Chief Matthew Haerter.

There were no injuries.


2.  Fire Sprinklers Save Office Building from Fire during Renovation | November 24, 2017

Firefighters were called to an office building in East Northport when a fire ignited during renovations.  When firefighters arrived, they noted that the fire sprinklers activated and extinguished the fire.  

The fire is under investigation, but it appears that rags soaked in stain started the fire.

3.  Sprinkler Systems Saves Home in View Royal | November 24, 2017

Fire crews were called to the scene of a condo fire at 9:40am.  The fire started in a bedroom, caused by unattended candles and incense.  

"If this hadn't been a sprinklered building, this would have been a significantly different event.  Thankfully, the sprinklers kicked in and controlled the fire.  It's a good outcome today," said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst. 

View Royal has a proactive fire sprinkler bylaw that required all new construction of duplexes or larger to have fire sprinklers.  This law saved the condo complex!

4.  Arson at Women's Health Clinic Extinguished by Fire Sprinklers | November 22, 2017

A women's clinic in Temecula was damaged by arson fire.  Firefighters were called to the scene around 1am on November 22.  When they arrived, the fire was extinguished from the fire sprinklers.

"We were notified about the fire by an alarm company, and by the time our crews reached the location, the fire sprinkler system had extinguished the flames.  The contents of one room were damaged," said Riverside County Fire Department spokeswoman April Newman.


5.  Arson at Walmart - Fire Sprinklers Save the Store | November 22, 2017

A walmart in Cedar Park, TX was set on fire by an arsonist.  The fires were set inside the Walmart at 1:44am.  One in the apparel section, the other in jewelry.  Three sprinkler heads activated, and put out the flames.     

When the news is filled with unfortunate events, it's nice to hear about how fire sprinklers save lives. 

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Cancer Kills More Firefighters Than Fire

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Firefighters have a lot to worry about.  Fires are a real threat every day.  Lung issues are a bi-product of their jobs.  However, cancer is the real threat.  It has now come to light that cancer is killing more firefighters than fires or other health issues.

WSAZ followed the story of Keith Pyles, a Huntington Fire Captain who died from cancer after 20 years on the fire crew.


Here's an excerpt:

The report goes on to say that the CDC/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study tracked nearly 30,000 firefighters across the country in 2010 and found higher rates of cancer than the general population.

These statistics will hit home for departments across the nation, including in Huntington, West Virginia.

It was difficult for the entire crew when a firefighter of more than 20 years passed away from cancer.

"I had been on the fire department a little bit longer than Keith," said Jerry Beckett. "Actually, our first few years we worked opposite shifts."

Keith Pyles was a Huntington fire captain. Beckett, who know works for emergency services, got to know Pyles through work.

Eventually, both men were promoted to captain. They worked in the same station, but on opposite shifts. Then Beckett was promoted to Deputy Chief and was Pyles's shift commander.

The station at 14th Street West and Madison Avenue is where they worked side-by-side.

"Keith was a great firefighter," said Beckett. "He was attentative to detail. He wanted to make sure his people were well-trained. He was all about safety. Everybody needed to go home safe and sound, no injuries or anything."

Many at the department considered Pyles to be strict -- a character of tough love. Beckett even said Pyle was sometimes difficult to work for early in his career, but softened over the years.

"He held a very high standard for himself and expected everybody else to have that same standard," said Beckett. "So he did push his people and he could get hard to deal with sometimes to be honest with you, but he did it all because he wanted to do a good job and he wanted his people to do a good job."

Read the whole story here.

Why are more firefighters dying of cancer than in the past? 

Researchers say the reason more firefighters are dying of cancer is because of the materials in the properties that they are protecting.  Synthetic materials are toxic and cover the firefighters in formaldehyde, ammonia, and other chemicals.  Firefighters use self-contain breathing apparatuses, but some of these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin.

Perhaps it's time develop some smart technology?


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That Time Our Fire Sprinkler Saved Someone's Life.

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On October 24, F.E. Moran Fire Protection got to see their fire protection in action, and it saved someone's life.

Brian Gale, a Superintendent for the Morton office had recently changed the dry pendants at an assisted living facility in Peoria, IL.  The facility had ten year testing and inspections done and failed.  To get the system working, they needed to change out the dry pendants.

Electrical work was being done at the facility after the replacement.  New electrical panels were being installed.  Once installed, they turned on the panel and it blew up and started a fire.

The electrician who turned on the panel was trapped.


He was caught in a small electrical room with no way out.  He began to pray.

When he looked up, he saw a fire sprinkler head.  He told himself, "If this doesn't go off, I will be dead."  Less than a minute later, it activated.

The sprinkler head went off and the fire was extinguished.  The electrician got out of the room unharmed.

The F.E. Moran Fire Protection fitter showed up a short time later and the electrician thanked him.

Brian Gale said, "It is rare for us to actually hear about the systems that we physically have worked on putting out fires and saving a life.  We hear it on the news occasionally, but I thought this was great."

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