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Charges to release people from lifts

15 October 2009

From next month London Fire Brigade is planning to charge for releasing people stuck in lifts in a move to reduce the number of such incidents they attend.

One in ten calls received by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is to release a person shut in a lift. In 2008/9 it attended over 14,000 such calls. The LFB is not required to attend these calls and wishes to reduce the numbers of times it does because each lift call takes up the time of a fire engine and crew. The knock on effect is a reduction in capacity to attend emergency incidents, carry out community safety work and provide essential training for firefighters.  
This charging scheme is being implemented to incentivise building owners to tackle this problem where it has reached and unacceptable level. The LFB has the power to charge for releasing people from lifts or effecting entry to a lift at these non-emergency incidents and from 1 November 2009 will start to charge lift owners or operators on the tenth lift release at the same building within a twelve month period. Counting towards the ten releases will start 1 November 2009. The current charge is £260 + VAT. Once there have been ten lift releases at a building within twelve months, all subsequent non-emergency lift releases will be charged for. 
It is the responsibility of the lift owner or operator to make suitable arrangements for lift maintenance and the safe release of anyone shut in their lifts. The LFB is not the appropriate agency to routinely release people from lifts.
People shut in lifts must be able to raise the alarm but the Fire Brigade should only be called in an emergency. Suitable arrangements for the routine release of people shut in lifts include:
 providing a lift release service through a lift engineering or similar company
 providing trained staff able to release people who are shut in a lift - lifts must be risk assessed and staff must be properly trained before being authorised to carry out lift releases
 ensuring there are suitable communications in lifts so that a person shut inside can clearly see how to raise the alarm and be reassured that help is on its way
 distribution of information to lift users so that they are aware of the correct procedure.

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