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State Fire Marshal offers high-rise residence safety tips

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 | 07:48am

NASHVILLE, TN – The State Fire Marshal’s Office is encouraging Tennesseans living in high-rise apartments or condominiums to plan and be prepared in the event of a fire.

“It is important to know the fire safety features in your building and to work with neighbors to help keep your building as fire-safe as possible,” State Fire Marshal and Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak says. “Whether you live in a two-story condominium or a 15-story apartment, being prepared is fundamental to safely escaping a fire.”

The State Fire Marshal’s Office shares the following tips for occupants of such residences:

  • For the best protection, when considering a building for your home, select a building that has sprinklers. If your current building does not have sprinklers, ask the landlord or management to consider installing a sprinkler system.
  • Meet with your landlord or building manager to learn about the fire safety features in your building (fire alarms, sprinklers, voice communication procedures, evacuation plans and how to respond to an alarm).
  • Know the locations of all available exit stairs from your floor, in case the nearest one is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • Make sure that all exits and stairwell doors are clearly marked, not locked or blocked by security bars and that they are clear of clutter. Report all hazards, such as piled trash, blocked exits or missing exit lights, to your building manager.
  • If there is a fire, pull the fire alarm on your way out to notify the fire department and your neighbors.
  • If someone else has pulled a fire alarm, feel doors for heat before opening and close all doors behind you as you leave. If a door is hot to the touch, if possible, use another way out. If it is cool to the touch, leave by the nearest way out.
  • If an announcement is made throughout the building, listen carefully and follow directions.
  • Use the stairs to get out – never use the elevator.
  • Go to your outside meeting place and stay there. Call the fire department. If someone is trapped in the building, notify the fire department.
  • If you can’t get out of your apartment because of fire, smoke or a disability, stuff wet towels or sheets around the door and vents to keep out smoke.
  • Call the fire department and tell them your location.
  • Open a window slightly and wave a bright cloth or a flashlight to signal your location. Be prepared to close the window, if keeping it open makes the smoke condition worse.
  • Fire department evacuation of a high-rise building can take time. Communicate with the fire department to monitor evacuation status.

For more information on making your home fire-safe, download and print the State Fire Marshal’s home fire safety checklist ( The State Fire Marshal’s Office also may be contacted at 615-741-2981.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office ( is a division of the Department of Commerce and Insurance (, which works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee., @TNCommerceInsur (Twitter), (Facebook), (YouTube)

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