Safety & Regulation

Access, Security & Tenant Safety Feature

The proper maintenance, service and repair of existing lift stock plays an important role in enabling people to flow in apartment blocks

In new housing, a fire-fighting lift is required if the building has a floor more than 18 metres above, or more than 10 metres below, the fire-service vehicle access level. In some circumstances, a fire-fighting lift may be provided as part of a

management plan for evacuating people. In such cases, the lift installation may need to be appropriately located and protected, e.g. refuge areas at landings.

WHAT'S AN EVACUATION LIFT? Evacuation lifts can aid the fire and rescue service and emergency evacuation in the event of an emergency as part of an evacuation strategy. They enable the use of the passenger lift by a designated warden to

evacuate those less ambulant. Evacuation lifts comply with BS 81-76 lift regulations, with features requirements similar to fire-fighting, but excluding water protection. Typically, they are larger capacity passenger lifts to evacuate disabled users, patients in beds or stretchers, e.g. in hospitals or large nursing homes.

CAN AN EXISTING LIFT BE UPGRADED TO EVACUATION? OR FIRE-FIGHTING? For existing tower block lifts, where there is an emergency provision requirement, there is guidance on modernising in BS 8899: Improvement of fire-fighting and evacuation provisions in existing lifts. It is a fundamental assumption of BS 8899 that the elements of the building

design necessary for the fire protection and safety of the lift, including secondary power supplies, are provided as part of the building design. Typically, the only way to tell if a lift upgrade is possible is with a site visit: to assess both the current lift specification and whether the building design will

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provide at least the level of protection and features necessary to protect the lift specified. Due to the exacting requirements, there are often limitations that prevent full or even partial compliance. These can only be assessed on a case by case basis.

AND OTHER POSSIBLE UPGRADE OPTIONS? Lift refurbishment can cover a range of improvements, from minor updates to significant repairs. Typical lift upgrades include:

 Safety improvements, such as the cost-effective upgrade of updating old light to modern LEDs for energy savings

 Cleaning, retrofitting and replacing any worn parts for the equivalent ones  Replacing door operators, putting in new control panels and updating control systems

 Improving aesthetics and lighting to give the lift car and entrances a more modern finish

 Upgrading a regular passenger lift to heavy-duty, to suit tougher environments and heavier use. Examples include stainless steel car finishes, vandal-resistant buttons and CCTV in lift cars

As refurbishments and replacements are typically in occupied buildings,

a lift company will work with property owners and tenants. Ensuring lift work is carried out safely, causes minimum disruption and providing a means of access for all building users - including temporary stairlifts to aid movement if required. On average passenger lifts have a lifespan of 20-25 years so, eventually, the

most economical solution will be complete removal and replacement. Again a site survey will establish what lift options are possible. The proper maintenance, service and repair of existing lift stock plays

an important role in enabling people to flow in apartment blocks. Not to mention that housing lifts are often in constant use! To prevent upset tenants, we'd always recommend regular and thorough lift inspections with 24hr service cover.

Alastair Stannah is managing director at Stannah Lift Distribution & Service (UK)

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