Highrises have fires, how safe to exercise in stairwells?

There was a fire in one of the units of my highrise in the past year. One of the tenants said that that there was so much smoke that it was hard to f ind his way through the hallway to the stairwell. Obviously, this means th at smoke billowed into the stairwell when the door was opened by those gett ing to the stairwell. For a month or two afterward, there was an industria l size HEPA filter on the floor on which the fire occurred. I'm pretty sur e there was no specific cleaning of the hallway, but I could be wronga bout that. However, I would be shocked if there was even the slightest thought of cleaning the stairwell.
I use to climb the entire stairwell for exercise -- twice a day. This was a fter the fire. However, I've been reading of the residue that can be left behind after a fire. Is it unwise to use the stairwell for exercise? This question is relevant to highrises in general because with that many units, I'm sure that the probability of fire having occured and pumped smoke into the stairwell is quite high. Likely proportional to the age of the buildi ng.
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On 9/20/2014 7:17 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

in the past year. One of the tenants said that that there was so much smoke that it was hard to find his way through the hallway to the stairwell. Obviously, this means that smoke billowed into the stairwell when the door was opened by those getting to the stairwell. For a month or two afterward, there was an industrial size HEPA filter on the floor on which the fire occurred. I'm pretty sure there was no specific cleaning of the hallway, but I could be wronga bout that. However, I would be shocked if there was even the slightest thought of cleaning the stairwell.

twice a day. This was after the fire. However, I've been reading of the residue that can be left behind after a fire. Is it unwise to use the stairwell for exercise? This question is relevant to highrises in general because with that many units, I'm sure that the probability of fire having occured and pumped smoke into the stairwell is quite high. Likely proportional to the age of the building.

I'd make some calls local to you. Maybe someone already tested the air for chemicals?
There "should" be some air exchanges, and it "should" be a low risk.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Hi, Do you have any symptom(s)? Genetically do you have strong, healthy bronchial passages and lungs? How many stories are you climbing? In my working days in downtown, I used to climb 180 feet tower staircase up/down for United way fund raising. I don't think I can do it now. Even keeping up with my band playing euphonium is enough as is, LOL!
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On 9/20/2014 7:17 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I'd say if the stairway is not dusty, it should be safe to run up. If there is a haze in the air, dust level is too high.
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e of the tenants said that that there was so much smoke that it was hard to find his way through the hallway to the stairwell. Obviously, this means that smoke billowed into the stairwell when the door was opened by those ge tting to the stairwell. For a month or two afterward, there was an industr ial size HEPA filter on the floor on which the fire occurred. I'm pretty s ure there was no specific cleaning of the hallway, but I could be wronga bo ut that. However, I would be shocked if there was even the slightest thoug ht of cleaning the stairwell.

after the fire. However, I've been reading of the residue that can be lef t behind after a fire. Is it unwise to use the stairwell for exercise? Th is question is relevant to highrises in general because with that many unit s, I'm sure that the probability of fire having occured and pumped smoke in to the stairwell is quite high. Likely proportional to the age of the buil ding.
*Generally speaking stairwells are usually fire-rated to permit safe passag e. Consequently they are sealed pretty tight and have very little ventilat ion. Quite possibly there is residue of some sort from the fire that you e xperienced. I would think insurance would cover the cleaning. You might tr y contacting your local health officials for guidance and perhaps assistanc e. Otherwise, an environmental engineer should be able to arrange testing of samples.
John Grabowski http://www.MrElectrician.TV
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covert government manipulationOn Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:17:40 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I f it doesn't smell bad, I wouldn't worry about it
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On Saturday, September 20, 2014 7:17:40 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

On Saturday, September 20, 2014 7:30:42 PM UTC-4, Stormin Mormon wrote:

I have had experience with privately owned & run highrises. There is a conflict of interest between the profitability of the business and doing everything that should be done. Hence, I don't hold a lot of hope for getting accurate & complete info with reasonable effort. Hence, I am just trying to get an idea of what can be typically expected. Of course, there is probably a diversity of what can be expected, so I'm also hoping to get a sense of how broad that range is. In other words, just trying to exercise good judgement based on best guestimates.

What is "air exchange"?
I apologize, but I should have clarified that the stairwell is the fire stairwell. Or that's how it's normally looked upon as. It might be perceived as being rarely used, which would certainly be true. The norm is to use the lift. So there might be less concern with testing. Possibly none. There is *no* vent in either of the 20-storey stairwells, but sometimes, there is air coming from under the stairwell door at a few floors.
On Saturday, September 20, 2014 7:53:55 PM UTC-4, Frank wrote:

That's what I initially thought for more than a year using the stairwell for exercise. However, I've been doing some reading, and it seems that the residue coating surfaces can be filmy or powdery. I basically did the following search:
http://www.google.com/search?q=smoke-damage+fire+health
Filmy is probably good, powdery is not as it can become airborne with disturbance. Perhaps someone running up the stairs and breathing heavily. The particulates of concern are less than 10 microns, and are not visible to the human eye. I am inclined not to do this exercise anymore, which is a big sacrifice (the time required to go to a gym is simply not available). Hence I wanted to get a check on what is likely, based on people's experience, not just not just what is possible based on the internet.
On Saturday, September 20, 2014 9:05:15 PM UTC-4, John G wrote:

I agree that stairwells are built in general to withstand fire. OUr stairwells seem to have cement walls, with exception of some of the faces (I will check later tonight). However, there is some air coming in from under the stairwell doors at some floors, so it's not designed perfectly.
About getting information, please see my comment above about privately owned & run highrises.
On Saturday, September 20, 2014 9:05:33 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

That's what I've been assuming for over a year, exercising. Just wanted to check with people who may be experienced in the area of smoke damage, since doing the readings I mentioned above. Oftentimes, dangerous particulates are not detectable by human smell (e.g., asbestos). If this is not the case with fire damage, so much the better, and my wishful thinking was accurate.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Hi, It is known fire fighters have higher rate of cancer than average. Today's building materials are mostly man made which is more carcinogen/toxic. Any how living in high rise complex is not a good life style. We animals should be living with both feet on the ground. I know for a fact flight crews have more miscellaneous sickness which is not yet detrimental to their routine lives.(medically speaking)
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On 9/20/2014 9:35 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

When people started to super insulate buildings to cut down the heating and cooling costs,people started to get sick. We find out that in the old days, outdoor air would get in, and the indoor air with chemicals would get out. "Exchange" new air, for old. Without the ventilation, the ordinary chemicals were a problem. A fire stair might be isolated from the ventilation system, and might not replace old air with outdoor air as often.
--
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Christopher A. Young
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On Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:17:40 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I don't see why it would have billowed, unless there was a substantial exitway for the air to the outside higher up the stairway, so that it had a draft like a good chimney. In practice, but you can check, the top of the stairwell is probably a steel door to the roof, which probably was't opened becaues of a fire in one apartment.
I don't think I would count open doors from the hall to the stairwell on higher floors, because, and you can check, all the hall windows are probably closed, and the doors to the apartments are probably closed. (Don't highrises all have springs on the apartment doors so they will close automatically. Or is that just NYC?)
So I think if the smoke were to enter the stairwell in any great quantity during the fire, I think it would be by natural dispersion, more than air currents. And that same dispersion would cause the smoke to leave the stairwell when doors to other floors are opened and even when the door to the floor with the firre is open, once the smoke is out of that hall.
So I think it's fine.
You could also look for flat areas in the stairwell that would not normally be cleaned by anyone, and see if any particulate has settled on them. Of course even in normal times, everything horizontal can use dusting once in a while so you have to allow for that. You could put down, even tape down, some clean white paper in areas where no one will remove it right away and check how clean it stays. They don't have to be big. If you think they'll be removed, put a sign, "Experiment. Don't remove until November 1." When I moved to Brooklyn, my brother who I lived with lived on the fifth floor and I would run up the stairs and lose track of what floor I was on. No floor numbers in stair well. I didn't want to go to floor 6, so I taped 2" squares of white paper with a 5 and a 4, hand written, two or three steps down from the 5th and 4th floors. Within a month, the management had put up commerically made numbers on every floor in the stair well.
Six months later I got my own apartment, also on the fifth floor of another building. Did the same thing. These stairs were not separated by walls or doors from the floors of the building, but still, within 2 months commericially made numbers, firmly attached, went up on every floor of the building on the wall that someone coming up the stairs would face.
In each case, I forget if they left my numbers or not.
I have a Ph.D. in fire-scene reconstruction from Disneyland University and Tattoo Parlor.

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On Saturday, September 20, 2014 10:14:22 PM UTC-4, micky wrote:

I'm sure there was no draft. But the speculation of billowing is based on the fact that a friend's apartment on the same floor got an extreme amount of smoke damage, and the door to the stairwell isn't that much different than the door to the friend's apartment. If the smoke was so concentrated that a tenant cannot find his way to the stairwell by sight, then it must have been so concentrated that opening the stairwell door must have released a lot of it into the stairwell.

Yes, ours do. And the hallways have no windows. Both sides of the hallways have apartment units, as do the ends of the hallways. But as I describe above, there was a lot of smoke in the hallway of the floor where the fire occurred, and it certainly made its way into the other apartment units. I'm assuming that the entry of smoke into the stairwells was not much different. The seals on the stairwell doors aren't great, and there is a draft coming into the stairwell from some floors.

I hope I managed to paint a more complete picture of how much smoke there was in the floor with the fire.

Frankly, the stairwell is *never* cleaned. I don't think I've ever seen dirt removed in the 1+ year that I've been using them for exercise. Strangely, though, the banisters don't seem to have a layer of dust. Maybe because no one ever uses the stairwells. I seem to recall that dust is from human/animal skin, so if there is no usage, maybe that's why there is no dust. However, it is not the visible dust that I'm concerned about. A browsing on the web for documents on fire, smoke-damage, and health indicate that the problem is particulates less than 10 micron diameter. The damage is described as both grime and powder. I would prefer grime because at least it won't become airborne with agitation, e.g., some foolish health enthusiast running up the stairs.

Does that teach you the science of smoke damage and remediation?
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Stariwells and such are (under most codes) are not isolated from ventilation. In fact, in most, especially high rises, are usually ventilated specifically to remove smoke from the area. (On a high rise you can't really send the Truckies up to the top floor to cut a hole in the roof like they do in a house.).
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On 9/21/2014 10:26 AM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

It's been a lot of years, but I remember hearing of positive pressure stair wells. Someone figured out to pump outdoor air in, which helps keep the stairwells smoke free. Not sure anyone does this now.
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
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How much could it cost to have Serv Pro come and clean the firewells?
Automatic pressurization of them during an alarm is becoming common, particularly in taller office buildings.
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On Sunday, September 21, 2014 4:08:26 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

icularly in taller office buildings.
This is a 20 storey residential highrise, built in the early 80's. There a re no vents at all.
About how much it would cost to clean -- not sure, but it's 2 stairwells, e ach spanning 20 stories. I don't see the management doing this because it typically takes a lot of effort to push for much more obvious duty obligati ons. My current course of action is simply to get the opinion of those wit h experience in smoke damage. That is, the opinion of what one can typical ly expect in terms of likely contamination at a level that can be problemat ic. In seeking this opinion, I assume that apartment highrises are likely to have had fires simply because of the concentration of dwellings using a common stairwell. In effect, I am assuming that this is a common scenario, hence any such opinion would be well grounded in reality, i.e., I am hopef ully not asking for opinions on an obscure situation.
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WHich is pretty much what I said. Positive pressure VENTILATION. Although on further review I did do a lousy job of explaining what I meant..
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On 9/21/2014 6:49 PM, Kurt Ullman wrote:

I've been known to post before reading all the follow ups. I noticed you posted before I did.
"read everything before doing anything".
. Christopher A. Young Learn about Jesus www.lds.org .
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wrote:

in

OP should perform the smoking shoelace test from the other thread to see if there's any ventilation. Without hermetic rubberized submarine-type hatch seals, its hard to believe there's *no* air flow in a long internal "tube" that opens to the roof. In one high rise I lived in, the stairs and elevator shafts would whistle when the wind was at the right speed - proof there was air flowing!
The drill instructor "white glove" test will answer the question of particulates floating around in the stairwell. He should be sure to check stair treads for loose dust that could become airborne when he passes over them.
A piece of facial tissue rubbed on the walls will come up brownish colored if there is tarry smoke residue. Kurt, with your experience, I am sure you have seen negative "shadows" created when things on shelf have prevented smoke deposits. I saved a shelving board from a fire I survived that had clean circles wherever cans and bottles had been sitting on the formerly white (now smoky brown) colored shelf. That was from intense smoke so thick you could not see more than a few inches. Just as a reminder of how lucky I was.
SH
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