Montgomery County Fire and Rescue stresses high-rise safety after apartment fire

After a deadly fire at a high-rise apartment building on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring on Saturday, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue is reminding those who live and work in any high-rise of fire safety measures.

The agency typically responds after a major incident like this one to the community to answer questions and educate.

Melanie Diaz

"There is heightened awareness in the community often there are questions. We like to go out to the neighborhood talk to people about the circumstances but also talk to them about fire safety," said Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Spokesperson.

Piringer says anyone who lives or works in a high-rise building should be aware and should know what to do in case of a fire.

He says if you hear an alarm, get out of the building immediately. Don’t assume it’s a drill or a false alarm. If for some reason you can’t leave, because of physical abilities, smoke or fire blocking your path, stay in your unit and close the door. Call 911 and explain exactly where you are located. And possibly most importantly, don’t fight the fire.

"A fire will double in size every minute, think about that, that is pretty quick. Usually it gets out of hand, it usually doesn't end well, don't fight the fire," Piringer says.

In the case of the fire at the Arrive in Silver Spring, Piringer says those in the unit where it started are believed to have tried to put the fire out on their own, which delayed the alarm getting pulled, notifying those in the building of an issue.

He also says it complicated the response.

"It coincided with the fire department arriving we're trying to get up the stairwells with the gear and so forth, people trying to get down," Piringer explained.

The building did not have a sprinkler system. It is one of 76 in the county built before sprinklers were required. A state law will require all buildings be retrofitted with sprinkler systems by 2033.