Fire Fighting Lift
Firefighting lifts are specialised safety lifts intended for use in a fire emergency with specified safety features built into both lift and lift shaft.
As you’d expect from a leading UK lift company, fire fighting lifts supplied by R J Lift Services meet all the standards required.
Firefighting lifts are different from normal passenger lifts and it is important to note that normal passenger lifts ARE NOT and MUST NOT be used as firefighting lifts unless specifically designed and compliant with all the requirements.
What is a Fire Fighting lift?
The purpose of a Fire Fighting Lift is to safely transport firefighters and their equipment to the required floors in the event of a fire within a building.
It is important to understand that just because a lift has a ‘fire service over-ride’ function, it does not necessarily make it a Fire Fighting lift. As you’ll see below, fire fighting lifts have extra standards that must be met.
Under normal circumstances, Fire Fighting lifts can be used day to day as passenger lifts, (although there are some legal restrictions*). But, when the building fire safety alarm goes off, the extra safety features and controls within this type of lift allows the fire services to safely move personnel and equipment to where they need to be.
What are the standards that apply to Fire Fighting Lifts?
In 2015, the EC released an update to the standard for the installation of Firefighter Lifts – BS EN 81-72:2015 which included changes to the firefighting shaft and lift car structures as well as the emergency communication systems of Firefighter Lifts. All lifts installed in the UK must comply with this standard.
When is a fire fighting lift required?
In the UK, BS9999 requires that buildings more than 18 metres tall or with basements over 10 metres deep have firefighting lifts.
How is a firefighters lift different from a normal passenger lift?
Normally, in event of fire, the advice is to use the stairs and not a passenger lift, goods lift or escalator. In fact, to prevent passengers from using lifts once the fire alarm has sounded, a normal lift will automatically move to the ground floor and not respond to further calls, in line with British Standard EN 81-73:2016.
The difference with a firefighters lift is that while it will also move to the ground floor when the fire alarm activates, a fire fighting switch is provided to give fire service access to the lift control system within the lift car.
Triggered by a special key, fire mode over-rides all other inputs to ensure a ‘run at all costs’ operation for the fire services.
What are the regulations for firefighter lifts?
The additional safety features in a fire fighting lift allow it to be used by the fire services, as long as the fire is not in the lift shaft itself. The extra features of a fire fighting lift include:
- Dedicated, protected lift shaft.
- Emergency operation – where firefighters can control the lift operation and use the communication system with the Fire Service Access Level (FSAL).
- A means of self-rescue from the lift – an escape hatch or trap door in the ceiling plus ladders.
- Fire and water protection for all electrics.
- Fail safe, secondary power supply – this may be a back-up generator located in a fire protected area to ensure that the lift operation in maintained even if the main power supply to the building goes off. Plus, the cables must be protected.
- Measures to prevent the build-up of water in the lift well – these measures could include drains or pumps in the lift pit.
- The lift must be able to reach the top floor in 60 seconds (up to 200m).
- Shaft and machine room lighting is switched on during the emergency.
- Once in firefighter mode, doors remain closed on arrival; constant pressure control of doors and communication between lift car, machine room and FSAL.
Lift Design – Safety Features
Ensuring that fire does not compromise the lift means that the building design including lift shaft and doors must be fire resistant in accordance with the fire regulations and the fire strategy for the building.
There should also be a fire protected lobby in front of every landing door.
In addition, if there is a machine room, it should be protected to the same extent as the lift and associated equipment.
What are the dimensions of a fire fighting lift?
The minimum dimensions are 1100mm x 1400mm. The minimum load rate of a firefighter lift is 630kg or an 8 person lift, although they be larger.
Door opening width for a fire fighting lift is a minimum of 800mm wide – although in the UK, door openings are now usually 900mm wide to allow for motorised wheelchairs for when the lift is in normal use.
If the lift is also to be used for evacuation, the minimum interior dimensions are 1100mm x 2100mm. The minimum load rate for an evacuation lift is 1000kg or a 13 person lift.
An evacuation lift is used to evacuate people requiring assistance.
Evacuation lifts fall under British Standard EN81-76:2011 so have different requirements to fire fighting lifts.
*As the firefighting lift may be required for emergency services at any point, it should not be used for moving rubbish or goods. In addition, lobbies should also be kept clear to provide access to the emergency services and their equipment.