Can a Passenger Lift be Upgraded for Use in a Fire?

Passenger lifts are not designed to be used in the event of a fire. In order to prevent inappropriate use, and potential loss of life, the lift won’t operate once a fire alarm sounds. They will return to the ground floor and shut down; the doors will remain open, and communications will become inoperable.

Passenger lifts cannot, therefore, be used as part of a building evacuation plan. The Tower Lifts team is occasionally asked ‘can a passenger lift be upgraded for use in a fire?’. To answer this, in this blog we take a look at the operations of firefighter or evacuation lifts and consider what the upgrade would involve.

What Is a Firefighter Lift?

The firefighter lift is a requirement in all residential buildings with floors 18 metres above, or 10 metres below the level at which fire service vehicles will access the building. They are called ‘firefighter lifts’ because in the event of a fire, control can be passed to the emergency services as part of their operations to bring the situation under control. They can be used as a passenger lift under normal conditions.

The firefighter lift is characterised by a set of features that make it British Standard EN81-72 compliant:

  • Trap doors and ladders in the passenger cabin for use as part of a rescue operation.
  • An interface between lift control, the alarm system and fire detection.
  • Emergency intercom and lift operation enabled.
  • All electrical components are waterproofed.
  • The lift has a separate power supply, so it can continue to operate independent of the building supply.

What is an Evacuation Lift?

An evacuation lift is designed to be used for transporting disabled or elderly people, as part of an evacuation strategy, in the event of a fire. A warden or two-person management team will facilitate the evacuation and take control of operating the lift. The evacuation lifts will include the following features:

  • A switch clearly marked ‘evacuation lift’ should be situated at the level where people will be evacuated to.
  • The cabin has a fire-protected communication system installed.
  • Building design must meet requirements for fire resistance of lift shaft, lift landing stages, lift machine room, and evacuation refuges.
  • The lift has a separate power supply, enabling it to operate independent of the building supply.
  • Image-based signage should be used to indicate the evacuation route to the lift.

Can a Passenger Lift be Upgraded for Use in a Fire?

Upgrading a passenger lift for use as part of an evacuation plan, or in the event of a fire, requires work not only on the lift itself, but also on the building in which it is housed. In order to determine whether such an upgrade is possible would require Tower Lift engineers to visit the site and assess both the current lift installation and the building design. We can then confirm whether or not it will be possible to make all the necessary upgrades.

If you would like to talk to a Tower Lifts engineer about upgrading a passenger lift for use in a fire, call us today on 01525 601099

Tower Lifts carry out design and installation on a varied range of lifts throughout the UK including:

Domestic Lifts • Food Lifts • Bespoke Platform Lifts • Service Lifts • Platform Lifts • Goods Lifts • Scenic Lifts • Heavy Duty / Car Lifts • Passenger Lifts • Dumbwaiter Lifts • MRL Lifts • Fire lifts • Residential Lifts • low-Headroom Lift