Fire Safety in High-Rise Buildings: Is the Stay-Put Tactic a Misjudgement or Magnificent Strategy?

Andrew Arewa, Abdullahi Ahmed, David J. Edwards, Chizaram Nwankwo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
183 Downloads (Pure)


Historically, fire incidents in high-rise buildings reveal that Fire and Rescue Services frequently rely on the stay-put tactic (i.e., occupants of high-rise buildings should remain in their apartments) during an inferno. Recent fire occurrences in high-rise buildings reveal that there are two opposing viewpoints on the stay-put tactic. First, the understanding that the stay-put tactic is a beneficial practice used to protect, control, and facilitate smooth evacuation of occupants during fire incidents. Second, the argument that the stay-put tactic is a misjudgement and futile strategy that leads to fatalities, particularly in high-rise buildings. The aim of this study was to provide awareness and understanding of fire and rescue services use of the stay-put tactic in high-rise buildings. We attempted to answer the questions: is the stay-put tactic a misjudgement or magnificent strategy? The study adopted phenomenological research strategies with various focus groups consisting of seasoned firefighters and survivors with first-hand accounts of stay-put instructions in high-rise
buildings. The study also scrutinised three case studies of fire incidents in high-rise buildings in two countries. The study revealed that the stay-put tactic is obsolete; with the potential to cause catastrophic misjudgement, mostly during conflagrations in high-rise buildings. There is a need to advance research on the use of artificial intelligence communication systems and infrared image detectors camera to enhance quick and smooth fire evacuation in high-rise buildings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number339
Number of pages16
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and
conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


  • Fire and rescue services
  • Fire safety
  • High-rise buildings
  • Stay-put tactic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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