Jensen Hughes Middle East Newsletter Q4


Ali Al Musabih, MSc , CFPS, CFI-I Lead Consultant at Jensen Hughes

Protecting Against Fires in High-Rise Buildings Fire safety is a critical characteristic of high-rise buildings. It is therefore essential to implement fire protection measures that can effectively prevent, detect, and control fires and ensure the safety of the occupants and the property. Fire risk assessments identify and evaluate potential fire hazards and risks in a building and the appropriate actions needed to eliminate or reduce them. Assessments should be conducted by a qualified person or team and cover all aspects of the building, including the structure, design, layout, materials, equipment, systems, activities and occupants. A fire risk assessment should also include recommendations for improving fire safety and preventing fire incidents. Fire management plans outline the policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities for ensuring fire safety in the building. This document should be developed based on the fire risk assessment findings and comply with the relevant codes and standards. Fire management plans should be reviewed and updated regularly to reflect any changes in the building or its use. Preventive maintenance programs involve inspecting, testing, servicing, and repairing the fire safety systems and equipment in the building on a

that can contribute to fires in high-rise buildings, such as flammable materials, faulty wiring, human error, inadequate maintenance and environmental conditions. 

History of Fires in High-Rise Buildings Tragic high-rise building fires throughout history have claimed many lives and caused extensive property damage. Along with exposing various flaws and weaknesses in the design, construction, maintenance and management of high-rise buildings, these fires have called into question the effectiveness of the defend-in- place tactic, which advises occupants to remain in their apartments during a fire scenario. The lessons learned from these fires have led to improvements and innovations in fire safety standards, regulations, technologies and practices for high- rise buildings. Past high-rise fires serve as a reminder that these events are not hypothetical or rare but a real and recurring threat to life, property and reputation. Table 1 demonstrates the diversity of causes and factors that can contribute to fires in high- rise buildings, such as flammable materials, faulty wiring, human error, inadequate maintenance and environmental conditions.

High-Rise Building 

Fire Cause 



Reason for Fire Spread 

Trump Tower, New York 

April 7, 2018 

Electrical fault 


Faulty wiring or appliances ignited nearby combustible materials 

Grenfell Tower, London 

June 14, 2017 

Electrical fault 

Cladding system acted as a chimney and allowed the fire to bypass the compartmentation of the building 


Plasco Building, Tehran 

Jan. 19, 2017 

Short circuit 

Combustible materials and lack of fire safety measures in the building, structural collapse 


The Address Downtown Dubai Hotel  Lacrosse Docklands, Melbourne 

Dec. 31, 2015 

Electrical short 


Flammable cladding on the exterior, strong winds. 

Nov. 25, 2014 

Discarded cigarette 

Flammable cladding on the facade, lack of fire alarms and sprinklers, inadequate evacuation plan 


Windsor Tower, Madrid 

Feb. 12, 2005 

Welding work 

Lack of sprinklers above the 17th floor, flammable materials on the facade and interior, strong winds 


Beijing Television

Feb. 9, 2009 

Flammable scaffolding materials and lack of fire protection systems in the unfinished building 



Cultural Center (TVCC) Tower 

Faulty television set 

Flammable cladding and insulation on the facade, lack of fire barriers and compartmentation, confusing layout and signage, stay-put policy 

Lakanal House, London 

March 7, 2009 


Table 1: High-rise building fires from 2009 to 2018   Protecting Against Fires in High-Rise Buildings

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