A commentary on law and current affairs

Fire Risk in High Rise Buildings

Yesterday’s fire on the 4th floor of a multi-storey building under construction at Braybrook Place, Colombo 2 is a warning for Owners, Managers and Developers to pay attention to the precautions one should take to safeguard the lives of occupants in the event of a fire in such buildings.

According to a News release, the fire had spread to the adjoining building which was in close proximity. When the Fire Brigade had inquired about the number of occupants and their locations, the person in charge of the building was unable to provide an accurate answer. Fortunately the spread of fire was contained and there were no serious injuries. But if this had happened in a high rise building, the ignorance of people managing the building would have seriously impacted on the lives of occupants.

Several high rise buildings are coming up in the City of Colombo. When purchasing condominiums, buyers are mostly attracted to the location and the reputation of the Developer / Contractor and not much heed is paid to the aspect of fire risk. It is of utmost importance to consider the likelihood of a fire in multi storey buildings; especially if there are more than three floors, as the eviction of a building any higher than that becomes correspondingly difficult. Developers also need to pay attention to the available logistics and the operational ability of our local Fire Brigade to handle a high rise building fire.

I am giving below some precautions which are followed to safeguard occupants in multi storey buildings:

Fire Emergencies

In case of fire:

Know the location of alternate means of exit.

Know those procedures posted throughout the building. (Managers of condominium buildings should show directions to exit the building in the event of fire)

Always keep fire doors closed. Keeping them propped open will permit passage of toxic gasses, fumes, and smoke.

Do not obscure vision through fire doors by hanging signs, posters, or notices on fire door windows.

On Discovering a Fire:

Notify persons in the immediate vicinity.

Leave immediately.

Call the Building Management Officer and if possible the Fire Brigade.

Close all doors as you leave.

Do not use elevators.

Vacate the building. Evacuate through fire exit stairways and wait for instructions.

Be prepared to take directions from your building staff, fire and police personnel.

 Evacuation Drills and Precautions:

Evacuation drills should be held to educate and prepare residents to follow safety procedures.

Residents should leave their apartments during emergency drills.

Building Management should maintain a list of all occupants within the building which should be up to date at any given time, especially those residents who are old, invalid or incapable of moving without assistance (i.e. wheelchair bound)

Fire extinguishers should be strategically placed throughout the building and should be in working condition.

There should be fire sprinklers and smoke alarms in apartments in all multi-storey buildings and these should be periodically tested and should be in working condition.

There should be an easily accessible source of water for the fire brigade, ideally at the entrance to the building.




September 8, 2018 Posted by | City of Colombo Development, Condominium properties Sri Lanka, Fire in buildings, Safety and Security in condominium properties, sri lanka, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emergency Action Plan for fire in high rise buildings

The fire that broke out on New Year’s Eve at the 60 storey Dubai mixed development high rise called ‘Address Downtown’, is an eye opener for Developers and Management Corporations of condominium properties in Sri Lanka to pay more attention towards the risk of fire and the need to have an emergency action plan for such unexpected situations.

Most developers and managers of high rise buildings in Sri Lanka pay little attention to risks of fire and there are few ( if at all) that have emergency action plans.

I have attached for the information of readers a leaflet issued by the National Fire Protection Association of USA, recommending steps that can be taken in office high rise buildings. These can be used as guidelines by Developers, Managers and occupants of local high rise buildings to develop similar emergency action plans.

Don’t let your dreams go up in smoke – practice fire safety.”  ~Author Unknown



January 1, 2016 Posted by | Condominium properties Sri Lanka, Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment