What is an Evacuation Lift?

If you manage or own a multi-storey building which is accessed by members of the public, you will need to know, in the case of fire or emergency, that everyone can be quickly and efficiently evacuated to a place of safety. Lifts are an important component in any evacuation plan, but there are problems to be overcome. People tend to avoid lifts when fleeing a fire; they prefer to use stairways. But this can cause bottlenecks, and leave disabled people with limited options for exiting the building.

Making an Evacuation Lift Part of Your PEEPs

Fire Safety legislation requires that building owners or managers consider the use of evacuation lifts as an integral part of the Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs). Passenger lifts shouldn’t be used as part of evacuation planning unless they have been assessed, fitted to an appropriate standard and considered allowable by fire safety professionals.

An evacuation lift needs to be easily located, and considered safe by the passengers who would need to use it in an emergency. It’s important, therefore, that the lift is used as a passenger lift on a daily basis. People who would be required to use the lift to evacuate safely, should have training as to its safety features. An evacuation lift should have a dual purpose but it can’t be used as a goods lift.

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How Does an Evacuation Lift Differ From a Passenger Lift?

Evacuation lifts are subject to extremely stringent safety standards, and are designed to function efficiently in the case of fire and emergency evacuation. Features of an evacuation lift would normally include:

  • Fire resisting construction.
  • Back-up power supply.
  • Key-activated controls which override normal controls.
  • Alarm activated ‘return’ to ground, or pre-arranged floor station.
  • Effective protection against water and flooding.
  • Rescue access via trapdoors and ladders.
  • Lift accesses on every floor of building.
  • 2 way intercom.

In the event of fire, or emergency evacuation, a trained key holder would be required to take over lift operations. They would use the lift to facilitate the evacuation planning procedure.

Evacuation Lifts and DDA

People with limited mobility, and/or wheelchair users are highly vulnerable in the course of evacuation planning. The installation of an evacuation lift must, therefore, prioritise their safe removal from the building. BS 9999 states that an evacuation lift should be considered the preferred option for anyone unable to use the stairs.

Tower Lifts is a Specialist Evacuation Lift Installer

Contractors and developers are now integrating evacuation lifts into multi-storey public buildings. However, fire-safety legislation means that the Tower Lifts installation team is regularly asked to retro-fit lifts. At Wesley House in Luton we were asked to replace a 30 year old passenger lift with an evacuation lift capable of carrying 8 people over 10 floor stops.

Bespoke Evacuation Lifts

While it’s not acceptable to nominate a normal passenger lift a part of your evacuation plan, it may be possible to adapt your existing lift. The Tower Lifts design and installation team has worked on a number of bespoke design projects of this kind. We assess the safety features of the existing lift, the condition of the shaft, and its positioning in the building.

If we think it would be possible to adapt a passenger lift we will provide a full spec to demonstrate the extent of the work required to achieve the necessary standards. We always put the safety of our passengers first, and will never recommend adaptation unless we are certain that the lift could function effectively as an evacuation lift in the case of fire or emergency.


Tower Lifts house lift installers also provide a range of lift services including:

Domestic Lifts Food Lifts Bespoke Platform Lifts Service Lifts Platform Lifts Goods Lifts Scenic LiftsHeavy Duty / Car LiftsPassenger LiftsDumbwaiter LiftsMRL Lifts Fire liftsResidential Lifts low-Headroom Lifts