High rise buildings

Serious fires in high rise buildings are few and far between, with only a handful reported worldwide in recent years. Nonetheless fire safety in high rise buildings is of paramount importance due to the complexity of the buildings, and the potential difficulty of firefighting operations deployed at such incidents.

Staying safe in high rise flats and apartments

High rise buildings such as blocks of flats and apartments have been designed with fire safety as a priority. A flat's doors, walls and floors are all designed to stop fire and smoke from spreading to other areas of the building.

If fire breaks out in your apartment

  • Leave the room where the fire is straight away. Then close the door
  • Tell everyone in your apartment and get them to leave
  • Close the apartment entrance door behind you
  • Do not stay behind to put the fire out
  • If there is a lift - Do not use it
  • Operate a break glass point in your building as soon as you discover a fire if there is a system fitted. Not all high rise have or need a break glass system
  • Wait outside and away from the building
  • Call the fire service - dial 999 or 112

If you see or hear of a fire in another part of the building

  • The building is designed to contain a fire in the apartment where it starts. This means it will usually be safe for you to stay in your own apartment if the fire is elsewhere
  • You must leave immediately if smoke or heat affects your home or if you are told to leave by the fire service
  • If there is a lift - Do not use it
  • If you are in doubt - get out
  • Call the fire service - dial 999 or 112

To call the fire service:

  • Dial 999 or 112
  • When the operator answers give your telephone number and ask for fire
  • When the fire service reply give the address where the fire is
  • Do not end the call until the fire service has repeated the address correctly


  • Store gas cylinders, paraffin or other highly flammable liquids in your apartment or shed
  • Park or block access to the apartments. Access roads and gates are designed to allow fire appliances to get as close as possible to fight fires
  • Wedge doors open. Remove wedges if you find them
  • Leave objects on the landings that could be in the way when you try to escape
  • Smoke in communal areas including the landing and lifts. It is against the law to do so
  • Place candles or tea lights on, or near to flammable materials e.g. curtains

Further help

Should you wish for further advice, please contact our Contact Centre on 0800 0241 999 or to report any fire related issues in your area please call your local fire station.

We also have a 'Fire safety in flats' leaflet below providing useful information for people living in flats, landlords, and for those responsible for residential buildings: