So what should you do if you're ever in a high rise building that catches fire?

These hoses act as "apartment packs" for firefighters. (Source: WOIO)
These hoses act as "apartment packs" for firefighters. (Source: WOIO)

PARMA, OH (WOIO) - Police have confirmed 12 deaths so far from Wednesday morning's deadly high-rise fire in London, but officials say that number is expected to rise. Firefighters are going floor-by-floor searching for survivors inside of the 24-story apartment tower.

Here in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland 19 is looking into how local fire departments respond to fires like this.

There are plenty of high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland, Akron, and some of the suburbs, so fire departments are trained to handle worst-case scenarios.

"Anything can happen, for a city our size just a little bit smaller scale," said Doug Turner with the Parma Fire Department.

Parma's tallest building is the hospital -- University Hospitals Parma Medical Center -- at about 10 floors.

Turner says they use "apartment packs" to respond to high rise apartment fires. Firefighters find a hook-up for the hose on the outside of the apartment building to pump in the water. Then they climb the stairs to the floor below where the fire started to hook up the other end to a pipe.

So what should you do if you're ever stuck in a high rise building that catches on fire?

Firefighters say "shelter in place." Put a wet towel under the door to keep the smoke out.

"I know that's a hard concept for people to grasp, they just want to run out of the building, but if the fire gets into the hallway, most of the time it fills with smoke and they're not able to make it out of there," Turner said.

Whatever you do, don't leave your door open if you run for help.

"If people leave and leave the doors open then it can spread from apartments down the hallway into the stairwells and that's their only means of getting out of the building, so they've just taken away their only access point or exit point," Turner said.

Most apartments built in recent years have firewalls. They're compartmentalized to stop the flames from spreading.

"Typically we go by time (to determine whether a building is about to collapse). If we're in a building for an extended period, even as early as a half an hour and we're not making any progress but the fire is, then whoever's in charge will start thinking about pulling people out and trying to attack the fire in a different way, or if everyone's out, just let it burn," Turner said.

He says they won't risk the lives of firefighters if there are no people to save inside.

Local fire departments are always training by taking a look at massive fires like the one in London.

Officials will look at what fire crews did right and did wrong after they find out the cause in that case, so others can learn from what happened.

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