10 Essential Actions Every High-Rise Property Manager Should Take to Ensure Safe Evacuations

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: December 7, 2020

When you own or manage a high-rise property, you take special note of headlines about tall building fires. Breaking news about November’s John Hancock Center fire was especially concerning. Much like the anxiety caused by 9/11 and recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the sense of unease makes you wonder. What if a fire would strike my building? Are we truly ready for an emergency evacuation of our building?

As Chicago’s leading commercial restoration contractor, we’ve seen the devastation fire causes in high-rise buildings. The Chicago Fire Department is an excellent source for guidelines that apply to residents during a high-rise fire. But you know it doesn’t stop there. What about your emergency evacuation plan? Do you have your bases covered? We summarized the 10 Essential Actions to take:

  1. Speak with fire department personnel about their high-rise fire safety programs. Arrange for them to set up presentations for residents on a regular basis. Association meetings are an ideal venue for this type of safety education.
  2. With input from the fire department and residents, develop a clear evacuation route, print an instructional map, and post it in prominent areas on each floor. Periodically review and modify the information so that it remains accurate.
  3. Work with residents who are willing to act as designated floor wardens during emergencies. Give them additional training so that they can sound the alarm and aid in evacuating elderly individuals and those with special needs.
  1. Identify residents who may need extra help during an emergency, and keep floor wardens updated. Speak with neighbors who are willing to back up floor wardens during an evacuation, and let special needs individuals know that help will be available.
  1. Encourage all residents to participate in scheduled evacuation drills. This ensures that everyone in the building is familiar with alarms and exits, and it acquaints floor wardens and other volunteers with individuals who may need emergency assistance.
  2. Drills should include designated locations outside of the building for residents to gather during an evacuation. These areas are best located a safe distance from the high-rise and out of the way of first responders and emergency personnel.
  3. Never allow fire exits and hall doorways to be locked. Instruct on-site staff to regularly check emergency evacuation routes inside the building to confirm unlocked exits and make sure that doorways and stairwells aren’t blocked.
  1. Confirm the integrity of all safety systems inside and outside your high-rise property. Include emergency lighting, communication and alarm system checks in regular building maintenance plans, and develop documentation that tracks problems and repairs.
  1. Back up in-house maintenance on security systems with scheduled inspections by reputable companies. When older equipment needs upgrades or replacements, always make the investment, and keep your insurance company informed of any modifications.
  2. Establish an In Case of Emergency list of numbers on your cell phone. This ICE list should include all area emergency agencies as well as cleanup and restoration services. Share your ICE list with maintenance and security staff as well as floor wardens.

Fire Damage Cleanup and Commercial Restoration

Once the fire fighters have done their job, you’re faced with the enormous responsibility of recovery. ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba provides IICRC certified fire damage cleanup and emergency restoration high-rise building managers here in Chicago depend on. Whenever you face an overwhelming task, call us for an immediate response and professional smoke and fire damage restoration services 24/7.