The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Ultra High-Rise Buildings – Part 56

August 28, 2019 11:42 am

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others in the building design business, we have been discussing firefighting and the relevant provisions that should be made for those activities at building design stage. In part 55, we finished looking at ventilation systems and began to consider the challenges of ultra high-rise buildings in providing a fire safe environment. In part 56, we continue on that subject by considering some of the innovations employed to keep building occupants and firefighters safe in a fire situation in ultra high-rise buildings around the world, including refuge floors.

With it taking as much as half an hour for a fit person to descend all the stairs of some of the world’s tallest ultra high-rise buildings, alternatives to safely evacuate all persons in case of fire had to be found.

Some ultra high-rise buildings, such as the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, utilise high speed lifts to evacuate all building occupants in case of fire. The lifts at Petronas are so advanced that if one becomes stuck, it is possible to evacuate the people stuck in that lift by manually placing an adjacent lift alongside and opening a panel in the wall.

Other ultra high-rise buildings are built with refuge floors or refuge rooms for the occupants of the building to evacuate to in the event of a fire. Taipei 101, the city’s financial centre, has two pressurised fire safety corridors included on each floor of the building which are connected to separate pressurised emergency stairways providing access to two refuge rooms every 8 floors.

The Shanghai World Financial Centre in China at 492 metres is an incredible height, although not the tallest in the city (it is beaten by the Shanghai Tower) and is constructed so that on every 25th floor, there is a large refuge floor, rather than a room. The floor is large enough to have capacity for every person usually located on the 24 other floors between. Each person is allowed within the region of 0.3m2 per person. Specialist lifts are provided, which are known as ‘occupant egress elevators’ which stop at every refuge floor.

The Shanghai Tower itself, at over 600 metres, provides evacuation lifts known as ‘lifeboats’ for all occupants of the super tall building. As the Tower houses both office space and a hotel, evacuation arrangements have to be easy to follow and implement, as some building occupants will be in unfamiliar surroundings.

In part 57 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the innovations for fire safety purposes in ultra high-rise buildings, starting with access for firefighters. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 0800 410 1130.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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