Inspection Improvements for High-Rise Buildings

The number of high-rise buildings in Seattle continues to increase along with the city’s population.  High-rise buildings present a unique risk to public safety and firefighters. They often contain large concentrations of people above the reach of aerial ladders therefore creating a physical demand on the firefighters as they must carry in their fire and life saving resources. In order to decrease these risks, high-rises are built with sophisticated fire protection systems that are designed to prevent the spread of fire and decrease smoke infiltration.  The accurate functioning of these systems are critical to the safety of the public and therefore must be inspected regularly.

Beginning July 2017, SFD is implementing a new high-rise inspection program to promote fire and life safety. A small team of inspectors from the Fire Prevention Division will be dedicated to providing high quality, consistent inspections in high-rise buildings throughout Seattle. The program will:

  • Help SFD better meet the mission of protecting occupant life and preserving property.
  • Create a better partnership between SFD and building managers and engineers.
  • Improve SFD response capabilities. The response ready firefighters were previously tasked with these inspection.  The downtown core fire stations experience some of the highest run volumes in the City, and relieving them of their heavy high-rise inspection responsibilities will help improve emergency availability and response times.

The program will begin with a pilot from July 1 to December 31, 2017, in high-rise buildings in the downtown core, Pioneer Square, and South Lake Union. Buildings were chosen for inclusion in the pilot based on their location as well as a desire to achieve a mix of different occupancy types and number of stories. After the pilot ends in December 2017, the program is anticipated to be extended citywide and all high-rise buildings in Seattle will become part of the program.