Track A – Session 2:
High-Rise Buildings a Cosmopolitan Risk: Saving Lives versus Business Continuity

The complexity of high rise buildings poses challenges in the event of evacuation. The multiple floors of staircases, longer egress times and large number of occupants determine the success of a complete evacuation. Most high rise buildings are well equipped with most up-to-date safety systems, nevertheless, untoward disasters can still occur ranging from fires to terrorist attacks.

The readiness of occupants is an area of importance as this can delay the overall course of evacuation. Identifying the causes of common delay of occupants is elemental to continuously improve successful evacuation in event of emergencies. In view of the increased number of terrorist attacks globally in recent years, high rise buildings are consistently on alert as it is usually a prime target.

Therefore, carrying out evacuation drill is indeed paramount to an emergency preparedness. Series of full scale and functional evacuation drills were conducted at the highest twin towers in the world, PETRONAS Twin Towers (PeTT) and Tower 3, code named Ex-SIAGA. Furthermore, PeTT includes various type of business and occupants e.g. offices, shopping mall, large underground parking area and recreational and leisure facilities.

A study to look into the occupants’ behaviors was carried out in concurrence of the evacuation drill and based on previous drills findings e.g. evacuation time. The purpose of the study is to identify the common behaviors that contributes to the delay of the overall evacuation time. Information pertaining to the common behaviors was gathered through observation and online survey. In addition, the study also observed the willingness of full participation of occupants in preparing themselves in case of real emergencies. This observation is based on number of occupants vacating the building prior to the execution of the evacuation drill. The information obtained from this study is necessary for PeTT to continuously improve its emergency response preparedness. Some of the lesson learnt form.

World Trade Center tragedy were referred in order to understand the occupant behavior and actions.
Secondly the drills were also to test the Business Interruption and Continuity preparedness e.g. activation and mobilization of Business Continuity Teams, activation of Alternate Work Site (AWS), readiness of ICT as well as the response time in order to reactivate the critical business functions.