Evacuation lifts: an alternative escape route

Evacuation lifts have the potential to offer a safe route out of a building. Arup’s Eoin O’Loughlin and Harry Wiles, and Matthew Ryan of The Fire Surgery, look at the challenges and opportunities of incorporating them in fire strategies.

In the UK, fire safety legislation and associated guidance are currently undergoing an unprecedented process of scrutiny and change. As part of this, many of the common assumptions and ‘norms’ relating to the design of buildings are being reviewed. Opportunities to improve and develop safer, more inclusive, and more sustainable approaches are being identified.1,2,3

With increasing numbers of mid/high-rise buildings, and growing numbers of people that may have difficulty getting out of a building, the traditional solutions for vertical evacuation need to be reconsidered. In residential apartment buildings especially, people should be able to safely evacuate regardless of their physical, cognitive or sensory capabilities to navigate stairs safely. 

An obvious strand of tackling this vertical evacuation challenge would be to increase the use of lifts in emergencies. However, the public have generally been taught that: ‘in the event of fire do not use the lift’.

This article aims to highlight some primary considerations about the use of lifts for the evacuation of people who cannot use stairs. It identifies a number of challenges and opportunities to be addressed as part of enabling their incorporation in fire strategies. 

Read the full article here