High rise buildings have been endowed with all kinds of safety features. Heat and smoke detectors, maunal and automatic fire alarms, fire hose cabinets, and automatic sprinkler system are all effective standard devices in modern tall buildings. So too are pressurized stairwells and rooftop helicopter pads. But the provision of supplemental evacuation has gone beyond that into finer details for large scale mass emergency evacuation.
In January 2009, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) in the United States approved the use of “Supplemental Evacuation Technology” in high rise buildings to assist in rapid escape in an emergency. NFPA also approved the use of Supplemental Evacuation Technology in official and/or mandatory Evacuation Plans.
Fire in an occupied high-rise could mean having to evacuate hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of people in difficult and dangerous conditions. For examples, having to evacuate a building in darkness due to power outage; having to evacuate people on wheelchair if the elevator is not working or if the stairway is not accessible because of smoke and fire. All of these circumstances and more have to be planned for if the building evacuation is to be successful. That is where preparedness in Supplemental Evacuation comes into play. It is not a luxury but risks reduction strategy in tackling the perceived difficulties and problems of building evacuation.