Installing a Fire Fighting Lift

Installing a Fire Fighting Lift

Upgrading Safety With a Fire Fighting Lift

Fires pose a constant and severe threat to life, and when they occur in multi-story buildings or structures with deep basements, the danger escalates significantly. To address this heightened risk, installing a fire fighting lift is a critical safety measure.

A fire fighting lift is essentially a passenger elevator equipped with specialised safety features in both the cabin and the shaft, specifically designed for use by firefighters during emergencies. This vital tool allows firefighters to access every floor of a building with their equipment, providing additional protection for building occupants in the event of a fire outbreak.

Fire fighting lifts are mandatory in multi-story buildings that rise to 18 meters or more above ground level or descend 10 meters or more below the fire service vehicle access level. Understanding the importance of these lifts and their installation is critical for businesses and property developers seeking to ensure the safety of their occupants and compliance with essential safety regulations.

How Does a Fire Fighting Lift Work?

In standard passenger lifts, safety protocols dictate that they halt operation immediately upon the activation of a fire alarm. Typically, these lifts will automatically return to the ground level, rendering their control panels non-operational.

This precautionary measure is in place to prevent passengers from using the lifts during potentially hazardous fire conditions. However, a fire fighting lift operates differently; it functions as a conventional passenger lift under normal circumstances but transitions into firefighter mode when a fire is detected.

Crucially, fire fighting lifts must adhere to the stringent requirements outlined in the BS EN 81-72:2020 regulations, which govern their design and operation

How Does a Fire Fighting Lift Differ From a Fire Evacuation Lift?

Fire fighting lifts should not be confused with emergency evacuation lifts, which are managed by designated wardens and primarily used for the initial evacuation of building occupants unable to use the stairs.

Evacuation lifts are subject to a distinct set of regulations (BS EN 81-76). There are, nevertheless, hybrid lift systems available that combine both fire fighting and evacuation functionalities, providing a comprehensive safety solution for multi-story buildings in compliance with all relevant regulations.

How Does a Fire Fighting Lift Differ From a Fire Evacuation Lift?

Key Features of a Fire Fighting Lift

A fire fighting lift serves a critical role during fire emergencies, transitioning from a regular passenger lift to a dedicated resource for firefighters. To fulfil this emergency function, it is equipped with a number of specialised features that go beyond those typically found in passenger lifts:

In the event of a fire, control of the lift operation and communication system is handed over to firefighters. This ensures that they have full command over the lift’s movements, allowing them to access different floors of the building as needed during firefighting operations.

The lift is housed in a separate, fire-resistant shaft that shields it from the direct effects of the fire and smoke, allowing firefighters to operate it safely.

Throughout the firefighting operation, an emergency intercom system is in place to facilitate communication between firefighters inside the lift cabin and personnel on various landings throughout the building. This real-time communication is essential for coordination and safety.

In case firefighters find themselves trapped in the lift cabin, a trap door and ladders are provided as an emergency escape route. This ensures that they have a means of egress if the lift becomes inoperable.

Water from firefighting operations can potentially enter the lift well, posing a risk to electrical components. To mitigate this, all electrical elements within the lift shaft and cabin are specially protected against water ingress and insulated to withstand exposure to fire.

Reliability is paramount for a fire fighting lift. Therefore, it is equipped with a dedicated and separate power supply, often from a generator, to ensure continuous operation even if the mains supply fails during a fire emergency.

To address the possibility of water accumulating in the lift pit during firefighting activities, pumps are strategically installed. These pumps are designed to efficiently remove excess water, preventing any compromise to the lift’s functionality or safety.

Incorporating these advanced features, a fire fighting lift is engineered to support firefighters in their life-saving efforts while prioritising their safety and operational effectiveness during fire emergencies.

Installing a Fire Fighting Lift

The installation of a fire fighting lift is a complex and highly regulated process, necessitating detailed planning, precision, and adherence to safety standards. This process typically unfolds in distinct phases to ensure the lift’s effectiveness during fire emergencies while meeting all regulatory requirements.

  • Site Assessment. The process begins with a comprehensive assessment of the building and its specific needs. This involves evaluating factors such as building height, layout, occupancy, and fire safety regulations to determine the lift’s optimal location and specifications.
  • Compliance Check. Ensuring compliance with relevant standards, such as BS EN 81-72:2020, is of primary importance. During this phase, the design team carefully reviews local fire safety regulations and codes to confirm that the proposed lift design aligns with these standards.
  • Customisation. The lift’s design is tailored to meet the unique requirements of the building. This includes selecting the appropriate size, capacity, and features to support firefighting operations effectively.
  • Shaft Construction. A dedicated, fire-resistant lift shaft is constructed to house the lift. This shaft is designed to withstand high temperatures and prevent the spread of fire and smoke.
  • Lift Installation. The lift itself, with its specialised firefighting features, is installed within the dedicated shaft. This includes the placement of key components such as the cabin, control panel, emergency intercom, and the trap door and ladders for emergency egress.
  • Electrical Systems. Electrical components within the lift shaft and cabin are meticulously installed, with a strong emphasis on water and fire protection. This involves careful insulation and sealing to safeguard against damage from water and fire exposure.
  • Power Supply. A separate power supply, often a generator, is integrated to ensure the lift’s operation remains reliable even in the event of a mains power failure during a fire emergency.
  • Functional Testing. Before the lift can be put into service, thorough functional testing is conducted. This includes checks of all safety features, emergency systems, communication systems, and the lift’s ability to switch to firefighting mode seamlessly.
  • Safety Certification. Independent certification agencies review and certify the fire fighting lift’s compliance with safety standards and regulations. This step is critical to ensuring that the lift meets all required safety criteria.
  • Commissioning. The lift is officially commissioned for service after successful testing and certification. It is integrated into the building’s fire safety systems, including alarms and control systems.
  • Regular Maintenance. To ensure continued reliability and compliance, routine maintenance and inspections are crucial. Maintenance schedules are established to inspect, service, and repair components as needed.

Installing a fire fighting lift is a comprehensive undertaking that demands attention to detail, strict adherence to safety standards, and close collaboration among architects, engineers, contractors, and regulatory authorities. This process is essential to safeguarding lives and property in multi-story buildings during fire emergencies.

Case Study – EN81-72 Firefighter Lift Installation in London

Case Study – EN81-72 Firefighter Lift Installation in London

At Sutton Court in Sutton, London, Tower Lifts successfully installed two passenger lifts to serve a twelve-storey apartment block. One of them was designed as an EN81-72 Firefighter Lift, bolstering the safety measures for the building’s residents. While both lifts routinely cater to the daily needs of residents, they are strategically differentiated to respond swiftly in the event of a fire emergency.

Enhanced Safety Measures

In the event of a fire outbreak, one of the lifts takes on a critical role by returning to the ground floor and immediately ceasing its regular operation. Simultaneously, the other lift seamlessly switches its function to serve as a dedicated firefighter lift. This transition ensures that firefighters have exclusive access to a reliable means of vertical transportation, expediting their ability to reach different floors swiftly.

Fireman’s Override Control Switch

At the ground floor level, Tower Lifts has incorporated a ‘fireman’s’ override control switch. This strategically placed control switch allows firefighters to assume control of the lift operation. It provides a direct and efficient means for them to access the lift’s services, enhancing their effectiveness during firefighting operations.

Tower Lifts – The Firefighter Lift Experts

As a leading firefighter lift company, Tower Lifts has a team skilled and experienced firefighter lift engineers capable of handling the entire lifecycle of passenger/firefighter lift systems. Our services include:

  • New Installations. From concept to completion, our engineers can install passenger/firefighter lifts from scratch, ensuring they meet the highest safety and regulatory standards.
  • Adaptations. We adapt existing passenger lifts for use as firefighter lifts or evacuation lifts where possible, following a detailed assessment of the building’s specific requirements.
  • Upgrades and Refurbishments. Recognising the importance of compliance with evolving regulations, Tower Lifts specialises in the upgrading, refurbishing, and maintenance of firefighter lifts. We ensure that your lifts are not only in optimal working condition but also fully aligned with the latest safety standards.

For nearly two decades, Tower Lifts has been installing fire fighting lifts in residential and commercial properties. Our design and installation team collaborates with architects, building owners, and property managers to prioritise the safety of residents in the event of a fire. Tower Lifts is your ISO9001:2015 Lift Cert and UKAS approved partner of choice.

Do you have questions about installing fire fighting lifts? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with a Tower Lifts engineer today by calling us 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 Lifts