High Rise Buildings and Fire-Fighting Challenges
Posted On: Jun 15, 2015

A fire breaking out in a high-rise building brings its own set of difficult challenges. In order for the firefighters to succeed, the first team at the scene must take the situation under control, even if the fire is getting out of hand. There is a precise set of instructions and guidelines each firefighter mush adhere to  in order to contain the blaze and save both the occupants, and if possible, the integrity of the building as well.

In this blog, we are going to discuss the challenges firefighters face and the standard operating procedure they must follow to best contain a fire in massive high-rise buildings.

The first team to arrive at the scene of the fire usually has their hands full. They must quickly park, take out the equipment, get their gear and enter the building with breathing apparatuses to perform a preliminary evaluation of the situation that they are about to face. The priority at this time is to confirm the exact location of the fire, and if possible, to figure out the origin point of the fire.

Responsibilities of the First Team on the Scene

  • Enter the building along with the necessary equipment

  • Check the alarm panel and rendezvous with the 911 caller at the front desk

  • Evaluate the nature of the emergency as well as its extent

  • Scope out and make efforts to contain the fire at the reported floor

  • Report the condition of the building that they witness inside the building

  • Begin with the initial part of the plan to contain the fire

At this point, there are two things the firefighters must do simultaneously, the first is staging and the second is creating a base of operations.

Staging is basically a point that is established two floors below the fire. This is where the crew assembles before climbing the stairs to control the fire. This point also serves as rehabilitation or a first aid center for the crew involved in the operation.

Responsibilities of the Staging Crew

  • Set up gear at least two or more floors below the fire, depending on the situation. The setup needs to be in an open area and never in a stairwell.

  • When the remainder of the firefighting team arrives at the scene, they report to staging. All personnel must bring the equipment required to the staging area.

  • The staging area is responsible for assigning specific tasks to teams of firefighters and the moving of equipment from one place to another.

The base of operations is a place, which is located at a safe distance from the high-rise building in question. This is the location where all the incoming emergency vehicles stop and move on foot from there onwards.

The Function of the Base of Operations Are As Follows

  • Serve as the first check point where every personnel must opt for a resource check-in

  • Create an efficient parking space for incoming emergency vehicles. Vehicles must not be blocked and should be able to leave at any time. This is especially important for ambulances and other emergency vehicles.

This is just an overview of the challenges and responsibilities brave firefighters have to face in a high-rise building. It should increase the respect you have for firefighters that risk their lives on a daily basis to keep the citizens of San Antonio safe from harm.


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Contact Info
San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association
8925 IH 10 West
San Antonio, TX 78251
(210) 699-9400

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