Buildings other than low-rise buildings without a deep basement, require additional facilities to enable the fire and rescue service to avoid delay, reach fires, work near fires, and to provide a secure operating base. This includes the provision of; firefighting lifts, firefighting stairs and firefighting lobbies, combined in a protected shaft described as a ‘firefighting shaft’ (although not all firefighting shafts need to include firefighting lifts).
The very basic requirements for firefighting shafts are illustrated below. Blocks of flats are treated differently from other buildings because of their high degree of compartmentation.
Approved Document B - Fire Safety: Volume 2 - Buildings other than dwellinghouses, defines a firefighting lift as, ‘A lift designed to have additional protection, with controls that enable it to be used under the direct control of the fire and rescue service in fighting a fire... A firefighting lift is required if the building has a floor more than 18m above, or more than 10m below fire service vehicle access level.'
A firefighting lift includes; the lift car, the lift well, the lift machinery space, the lift control system and the lift communications system. Firefighting lifts have very specific safety requirements and the presence of firefighting controls within a lift does not necessarily mean that it is a firefighting lift. Firefighting lifts should comply with the requirements of BS EN 81-72:2015 and BS EN 81-1:1998 or BS EN 81-2:1998.
NB an evacuation lift is a lift that may be used for the evacuation of people in a fire. It is generally not appropriate to use lifts if there is a fire because of the danger that they will become immobilised. However, in some circumstances lifts may be provided as part of a management plan for evacuation, although they will then need to be appropriately sited and protected and may need to contain a number of additional safety features. Where a firefighting lift provides access and facilities for the fire service, this can be used as part of a management plan for evacuating disabled people. However, any such plan should include contingency provisions for when the fire and rescue service arrive.
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