According to a new report released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), from 2005-2009 there were 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 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 Fire & Life Safety Conference, Division Manager of Building Fire Protection Robert Solomon explored code changes related to high-rise building construction, configuration, systems, planning and evacuation procedures. Find more information on Solomon’s session and the conference. Other findings from the report:

  • From 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.