08 September 2014

In a report published today (8th September) London Fire Brigade has revealed the buildings in London where you are most likely to get trapped in a lift.

The Brigade said: “Firefighters attend 13 non urgent lift call outs every day, which is nearly 5000 incidents a year. These are calls when a person is shut in a lift but not in any immediate physical or medical danger.

“The knock on effect from this is a reduction in our capacity to attend real emergency incidents, carry out community safety work and provide essential training for firefighters.”

LFB started recovering its costs for non-emergency call-outs in 2009, but claims that while lift releases have decreased since the charges were introduced, the amount of call outs is still very high. 

“Not only that, but, time and money is spent chasing building owners who have yet to pay their ‘shut in lifts’ bill. We’re currently owed nearly £250,000 in unpaid charges,” says the LFB.

Third Officer, Dave Brown commented: “If there is a genuine emergency we will be there, but on many occasions if you are shut in a lift it’s an inconvenience not an emergency situation. It’s the responsibility of building owners to maintain their lifts and ensure they use a lift engineer call out service if the lift breaks down.”

“The Brigade is always willing to work with building owners to advise on lift safety. Preventing people getting shut in lifts is in everyone’s interest and we’re calling on all building operators to ensure their lifts are regularly maintained and that their staff are properly trained to release people who get shut in them.”

Under existing rules the brigade is are able to recover £290 plus VAT from owners of buildings and lifts for attending non-emergency lift call outs. The charge is applied from the third occasion firefighters are called to the same building. The cost recovery scheme was implemented to encourage building owners to tackle the problem. 

The top four offenders

The worst offenders were Earlsdown House in Barking with 22 callouts and Windmill Court in Brent, which fire crews attended 16 times. Odette Duval House in Aldgate came third with 14 callouts and Quince House in Hounslow required 12 attendances within the year.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Original sources

BBC News

London Fire Brigade