According to the latest statistics, cladding has only been removed from 8.5% of high rise buildings in England.
With cladding having played such a devastating role in the Grenfell Tower fire last year, these figures from The Construction Index are concerning. And, if you work in a high-rise building, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little ill at ease about your workplace’s ability to cope with fires.
The good news is that despite the significant press coverage, high-rise building fires are still relatively rare. Regardless, it pays to be prepared, and if you ever have the incredible misfortune of ending up in a fire of that kind, the following tips will serve you well.
The first thing you’ll probably hear is the unmistakeable sound of the building’s fire alarm. It’ll be loud, shrill and might tempt you to rush out of the building or panic.
As hard as it might be, it’s vital that you and your colleagues stay calm in such circumstances.
Make sure someone calls the emergency services and work together to follow your evacuation procedure. This is one of the most important team tasks you’ll ever undertake, after all.
There is an exception to the evacuation rule, and that relates to where the fire is in relation to your building.
Sometimes, exiting the building can be just as dangerous as staying within it. If you’re on a particularly high floor and the fire is contained lower down within another room, it might be too dangerous to make your way out. In such circumstances, the fire service may even recommend that you stay where you are while the fire is dealt with.
It can be akin to walking down a chimney if the fire is particularly bad and producing lots of smoke. The natural inclination may always be to get out, but it’s important you don’t do that if it puts everyone in more danger.
There’s a reason the fire service exists. They’re absolutely brilliant at their job and know exactly what they’re doing.
Once you have dialled 999, it’s important the person doing so listens to every instruction and piece of advice given by the emergency services. Even if what they say appears to go against your natural instincts - listen to them.
It’s amazing how many people and businesses will take matters into their own hands, and while it’s certainly advisable to attempt to extinguish small fires with the fire safety equipment you already have, anything bigger needs to be put completely in the hands of our wonderful fire service.
The moral of the story? Always do as the the fire service tells you if you encounter a fire. Don’t panic, work tougher and make sure you follow the procedures that were made for this time.
Chances are, you won’t encounter a fire in your high-rise office, but if you do, keep our tips above close to hand!
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