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June 14, 2010

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Support for lift use in emergencies

Using passenger lifts may be viable when evacuating people in an emergency, according to a new technical report from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

The report ISO/TR 25743:2010, ‘Lifts (elevators) – Study of the use of lifts for evacuation during an emergency’, investigates and highlights some of the main risks associated with using lifts for evacuation in various types of emergency, such as fire, explosions, and chemical or biological attacks.

The report’s key objective is to provide building designers with a decision-making process to determine whether a given design can enable the safe use of lifts in the event of an emergency for a particular building. It can be applied to lifts and buildings of any size, whether new or existing, says the ISO.

Project leader Derek Smith said: “Over the past few years there has been considerable debate regarding the risks and hazards associated with using lifts during evacuations.

“As buildings get taller and larger, determining the extent of these risks and what can be done to minimise them is even more pressing, particularly as lifts can help persons with restricted mobility and other problems to evacuate buildings with relative ease.

“And, in some special cases, depending on the building’s size and design, lifts may also significantly reduce general evacuation time.”

The document includes a flow chart to guide users through a decision-making process, asking questions such as:

  • Is the emergency a fire?
  • Should the building be evacuated?
  • Has the structure been compromised?

Each answer leads to another question, or to a ‘decision’, with detailed explanations provided in an annex.

“The report provides guidance but clearly the final decision will be taken by the building designer,” added Mr. Smith. “Not all buildings are subject to the same risks and it is up to the designer to identify the most important risks for each structure and select the most appropriate solutions.”

The document is available through the ISO store at

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14 years ago

Razor – have you even read the document? Given the changes to building design and the possible threats to security that might exist, such policies shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. It might actually get building designers to think about health and safety a bit more in their decision-making. Yes, the risks need to be weighed up carefully, but provided they make their decisions on the basis of their design knowledge and back these up with evidence, then this could actually save lives.

14 years ago

For many years, the opportunity to validate this action has been discussed by the great and the knowledgeable, maybe we should take a more positive view on using lifts where appropriate. Unfortunately, this does have the potential to be abused and very serious consideration and guidance must be undertaken prior to a blanket support for the action.

14 years ago

Where multiple lifts are provided it would quite feasible to use lifts in the compartments away from the seat of the fire. I have responsibility for several nursing homes at one of these we have three lifts, all of which automatically park at their lowest level when the alarm activates. All three are in diffent compartments, it would greatly assist and speed up the evacuation if we could use at leats one lift for evacuation of residents.

14 years ago

This is fine for protected lift shafts but I would hate condideration for safe evacuation at the buildings design stage to be compromised due to this provission. We are by nature lazy creatures (some students generally will wait for a lift to go down one floor) and in a building that often houses over 1000 people, use of the lifts in the event of a fire would lead to congestion outside lifts, overloaded lifts and would dramatically slow down evacuation times.

14 years ago

Mark my words this is a mistake a BIG mistake