The Terrifying Truth of How Fires Spread In Tall Buildings

When it comes to protecting your family from a fire, actually understanding how a fire spreads throughout a tall building could mean life or death – literally.  

In a fire, there’s precious little time to lose. In fact, less time than you would think.

How Fire Spreads – Minute by Precious Minute

One of the most recognizable safety hazards, you might think you know how a fire spreads (it’s a recurring trope on TV, after all), and it goes without saying that fires can become out of control incredibly fast.

But just how fast might shock you.

30 Seconds

The only thing separating a manageable, starting fire and an overwhelming, out of control fire is 30 seconds.

In fact, this is a pretty conservative estimate – in homes where there are a lot of synthetics – sofas, furnishings such as curtains etc – the fire can spread even faster. In a tall building, the fire will still spread quickly – but you may have a few seconds extra in which to prepare.

1 Minute

Smoke – the actual most deadly cause of death in a fire – will start filling rooms. In a tall building, this might occur slightly after one minute, depending on the height of the floor, but actually, that isn’t time you would have in order to act, as you might not even know the fire is happening.

The smoke will start by rising to the ceiling, and then start dropping back down into the room…until the whole room is filled with thick, black smoke. One of the reasons that smoke is such a killer is due to the fact that it clouds your vision (robbing you of your vision in a time-sensitive, urgent situation)…but it’s also full of toxic chemicals that can asphyxiate you and cause drowsiness.

In a tall building, the smoke will continue to rise to the highest ceiling it can reach – which means for top-floor dwellers, they’ll actually be the first to feel the dangerous effects.


The temperature will reach unbearable levels – some estimates even say up to 600 degrees fahrenheit/315 degrees centigrade at eye-level. The heat byproduct of a fire causes around the same amount of deaths as the smoke, and breathing regularly at this kind of temperature will severely burn your lungs.

As heat rises, those people in the higher levels of the building are likely to feel the most severe temperatures. Unlike smoke, the heat will take slightly longer to reach the higher floors…by a few seconds.

4-5 Minutes

The heat generated in the fire’s starting location will cause a fire explosion – known as a ‘flashover’. At this point, and with similar flashovers occurring as a chain reaction, rescuing people trapped inside – at any level – becomes nearly impossible.

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Being Prepared for the Worst-Case Scenario

As you can see from the play-by-play, fires can spread shockingly quickly and – even if you live on the highest floor of a building, you’re far from immune to the deadly consequences of a fire. While you may have a few more seconds to prepare than people living nearer to the location of the starting fire, in reality, you might not be aware there’s a fire, and even if you do – the smoke will rise to the higher floors first.

With Skysaver’s innovative solution, your family can be prepared and safe in the event of a fire.

Skysaver’s Controlled Descent Device (CDD) is attached to a backpack and safety harness, which is quick and easy to use for every family member.

Designed with a friction-based mechanism that adhered to both American and European safety standards, this life-saving solution only requires a quick, one-time setup – for those ‘just in case’ situations.

All it takes is the installation of a small ‘anchor’ hook fitting near to a window in your home. The anchor is there to hold your weight in the case of an emergency – allowing you and your family members to abseil down the building as an emergency escape. Skysaver provides backpacks and harnesses allowing every family member to safely and securely connect the anchor – you simply need to order each family member and pets a pack and cable, and leave the equipment in an easy-to-access place.

Skysaver’s Three Steps to Safety

Skysaver has a three-step to safety process for life-threatening events:

  1. Buckle up
  2. Clip to the wall anchor
  3. Descend via the window

It’s as easy as 1,2,3: each family member must strap on their backpack and connect their harness to the wall anchor. Each wearer should then exit via the window and gradually lower themselves down the building, slowly but safely.

Just as with abseiling or mountain climbing, the speed at which they lower themselves varies according to the person: some may be able to ‘hop’, keeping their feet or hands against the building’s side to maintain their control.

Within just a few minutes, your entire family can safely evacuate a burning building, just by using Skysaver’s innovative backpack and cable solution.

Because, with the speed at which a fire can spread through a building, who has the time to gamble with the lives of their family?

Enjoy peace of mind for your family for those ‘what if’ solutions, and be in control of your safety.

Skysaver rescue backpack- for anyone that wants to protect their family in case of emergency.
Discover how you can #BePrepared with #SkySaver