Hathaway House High-Rise Fire:Lesson in Logistics

Issue 5 and Volume 156.

By William Shouldis A high-rise fire presentS a considerable challenge to any fire department. Nearly every jurisdiction has some kind of multilevel apartment building. Building codes vary in each community, and engineered fire protection systems differ in each structure. The post-9/11 world has focused on increased security. This has driven the management of many residential high-rise buildings to design barriers—such as walls, fences, and shrubs—around the perimeter of a property, making firefighting access extremely difficult. By definition, a high-rise building is at least 75 feet in height. Yet in reality, many five- or six-story buildings can be outside the reach of aerial equipment or have an excessive evacuation time. Some of these buildings are sprinklered in the common corridors and exit passageways, but there is no guarantee that individual rooms are protected. Preincident planning and familiarization tours of each site are essential. History has shown that well-developed fires in these…

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