What is an Emergency Evacuation Lift?

What is an Emergency Evacuation Lift?

Evacuation Lift Guidance – Standards, Design and Operation

Emergency evacuation lifts, also known as evacuation lifts or fire evacuation lifts, play a critical role in ensuring the safety of occupants during emergency situations such as a fire. Designed to provide an absolutely reliable form of vertical transport, the emergency evacuation lift is specifically engineered to ensure fast, secure evacuation from buildings, particularly for high-rise buildings, residential tower blocks, hospitals, and care homes.

We supply a range of emergency lifts and firefighters’ lifts. It can also be possible to upgrade existing lifts subject to a site visit to assess suitability. This article offers guidance on the definition of an emergency evacuation lift, the standards to which it is subject, design features, and its operation.

What is an Emergency Evacuation Lift?

An evacuation lift exists to provide evacuation from a building, in the event of an emergency, for anyone with mobility issues, or requiring level access. Evacuation lifts have advanced features such as fire-resistant construction, enhanced ventilation, and emergency power supply, in order to facilitate a managed evacuation plan.

The safety regulations and maintenance requirements governing the use of evacuation lifts are stringent, ensuring they are operationally ready in an emergency.

Standards For Evacuation Lifts

The emergency evacuation lift standards are laid out in BS9991 and BS9999. A revised Evacuation Lift standard (BS EN81-76) was drafted in 2019 but was not published at that time. A revised draft is scheduled to go to the Comment Resolution stage in August 2023. Prior to that, the standards may be used as a reference, but they are not yet in force.

BS9991 defines an evacuation lift as one which “has appropriate structural, electrical and fire protection and is capable of being taken under control by a trained and authorised person’.

Emergency Evacuation Lift Operation

Normal passenger lifts cease to operate when the fire alarm sounds; they return to the main exit floor on shut down in order to stop residents of the building attempting to use them. An emergency evacuation lift will have a switch that can be activated by the evacuation team. They take control in order to carry out the evacuation plan.

An evacuation team should comprise (at minimum):

  • The Operator who will have control of the lift and manage the evacuation plan.
  • The Assistant who will help people to the lift on their floor and maintain communications with the operator.
Emergency Evacuation Lift Operation

An emergency evacuation lift is subject to regular inspections carried out by trained evacuation team members. It’s recommended that the switch be tested once a week, to ensure that the lift is available for use in case of an emergency. A further lift inspection, by a competent person, is required annually.

Evacuation Lift Design Features

The design of an evacuation lift is critical, given the emergency operation it is used for:

  1. Clear Labelling of Switch. The evacuation lift should have a clearly marked switch labelled ‘Evacuation Lift’ situated within 2 metres of the landing door, at the final evacuation exit level.
  2. Fire-Protected Communication System. This ensures safe use of the lifts by the evacuation team. The communication system should connect the lift car, the main fire service access level, and each landing floor refuge space.
  3. Fire Resistant Construction. The building design must adhere to fire resistance requirements for the lift shaft, lift machine room, lift landing areas, and evacuation refuges.
  4. Secondary Power Supply. An emergency evacuation lift should be equipped with a secondary power supply derived from a separate substation or standby generator.
  5. Pictogram Signage. This should be prominently displayed, indicating the designated evacuation route leading to the lift.

Can an Existing Lift be Upgraded?

Tower Lifts specialises in the upgrade of existing lifts to serve as evacuation lifts, a project that would typically be incorporated into a modernisation programme. Upgrading poses certain challenges, namely ensuring the availability of secondary power and the establishment of refuge areas for individuals awaiting rescue.

To determine the feasibility of upgrading your lift, we recommend scheduling a site visit. This enables our lift engineers to closely examine your current lift setup and evaluate whether your building design can meet the necessary standards for providing optimal protection and safety features required for an evacuation lift.

Tower Lifts Installs Emergency Evacuation Lifts

Tower Lifts installers work with architects, developers and building managers across the UK in order to make commercial and residential multi-storey buildings safer. We install new evacuation lifts in multi-storey buildings, assess existing passenger lifts and upgrade existing passenger lifts where the conditions for suitability are met.

Tower Lifts is an ISO9001:2015 Lift Cert and UKAS approved company adhering to all current Lift Regulations.

To speak to a Tower Lifts engineer about an emergency evacuation lift installation or to arrange a site visit to assess an existing passenger lift, 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