High-Rise Fires Cause $235 Million in Property Damage a Year: NFPA

The report, “High-Rise Building Fires,” cites apartments, hotels, offices, and facilities that care for the sick as accounting for roughly half of all high-rise fires.

According to a new report released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2005-2009, there was an average of 15,700 reported structure fires in high-rise buildings per year with an associated $235 million in direct property damage.

The report, “High-Rise Building Fires,” cites apartments, hotels, offices, and facilities that care for the sick as accounting for roughly half of all high-rise fires. Structure fires in these four property classes resulted in $99 million in direct property damage per year.

There is a downward trend in high-rise fires. In the last few decades, a range of special provisions have migrated into the codes and standards for tall buildings. At NFPA’s upcoming Fire & Life Safety Conference Dec. 12-14, Division Manager of Building Fire Protection Robert Solomon will explore code changes related to high-rise building construction, configuration, systems, planning, and evacuation procedures.

Other findings from the report:

  • In 2005-2009, high-rise fires claimed the lives of 53 civilians and injured 546 others, per year.
  • The risks of fire, fire death, and direct property damage due to fire tend to be lower in high-rise buildings than in shorter buildings of the same property use.
  • An estimated three percent of all 2005-2009 reported structure fires were in high-rise buildings.
  • Usage of wet pipe sprinklers and fire detection equipment is higher in high-rise buildings than in other buildings of the same property use. Most high-rise building fires begin on floors no higher than the sixth story. The risk of a fire is greater on the lower floors for apartments, hotels and motels, and facilities that care for the sick, but greater on the upper floors for office buildings.
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    July/August 2019

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