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Sunday, November 23, 2014
Guest Column - Hot Topics
Are fires in high-rise buildings different than others? Yes!
By Sam Pinto
Courtesy Sam Pinto

A week after a fire claimed the life of a Manhattan man — who died while trying to escape flames in his building — reports say that during the fire, he was originally safe in his apartment. He reportedly died when trying to exit the building and was overcome by smoke and poisonous gases in the stair well. The question exists: do I evacuate or stay in place? There is a current buzz about what to do in the event of a fire in a high-rise building.

Long Beach is an extremely densely populated comminute. We have dozens of high-rise apartment buildings throughout town and along our beautiful shore. While our buildings in town are not 100-story skyscrapers, we still have many residents who live in 10-12 story apartment buildings or work in high-rise buildings.

What do you do in the event of a fire in your building? The best thing to do is prepare and create a plan for emergencies. Does your building have a fire emergency plan? Has your building done any emergency drills? Are you familiar with the building and all its emergency exits? These are things your should ask yourself in preparation.

Meet with your landlord or building manager to learn the safety features of the building (alarm system, sprinklers, etc.) and become familiar with the locations of all your exit stairs in case one is blocked by smoke or fire. Never lock fire exits or doorways, halls or stairways. Never prop stairway or other fire doors open. Fire doors provide a way out during the fire and slow the spread of fire and smoke. Remember, take the stairs, and do not use the elevators in the event of an emergency.

If the fire is in your apartment or unit, treat it as if it was in your home and evacuate immediately. Make sure to close the door on the way out to your unit to limit the fire from spreading. If you don’t hear the building’s fire alarm, pull the nearest fire alarm “pull station” while exiting. Once you reach a point of safety, call the Fire Department and let someone know what happened.

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