The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Fire & Rescue Service Facilities – Part 4

December 5, 2017 11:21 am

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management or who have an interest in or responsibility for Fire Safety, we have recently been discussing the nature of the responsibilities held by a building owner in regard to accessibility for the Fire Service. It was established that along with responsibilities to make relevant information available to the Fire Service and make the property available for familiarisation visits, there are some key elements which must be included in any new build and maintained effectively in an existing build. In Part 4, we will look at the power supply to a fire-fighting lift and relevant liaison with the local Fire Service.


As a fire-fighting lift is likely to be needed in order to transport equipment and fire-fighters as necessary to the floor of fire origin or any other floor, it is important that the lift continues to work even when a fire is ongoing. For this reason, it is essential that a fire-fighting lift has a back-up power supply to use as an alternative if the normal power supply is damaged or has failed. For this reason, all cables providing power to the lift must be protected against fire and the cables of the back-up power supply and the original power supply must be sufficiently separate for them to be unable to be affected by the same fire.


BS 9999:2017 – Fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings – Code of practice  provides guidance and recommendations on the operation of the lift control system and refers to BS EN 81-72:2015 – Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts. Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lifts. Firefighters lifts for guidance on engineering of the lift installation.


At main entrance level, or the fire and rescue service access level if they are different, there must be a switch which will return the fire-fighting lift to that level in order for the Fire Service to take control of it. From that point, the lift will be controlled by the panel inside the lift itself. An important addition to a fire-fighting lift is a form of communication between the lift, the Fire Service personnel at access level and the lift machine room.


The issue of suitable access to the building by the Fire Service is one that can be pre-planned and organised with the enforcing authority. Such liaison can help to avoid potential issues which can arise between security of the building and the need for effective and immediate access by the Fire Service. For instance, while fire exit doors are normally only operable from the inside of the building, it may be that they can be fitted with special locks which can be used by the Fire Service from the outside, to avoid the time taken and necessary damage inflicted if they have to force the door open from the outside. The keys for fire exit doors should be kept on the premises in a place they can be accessed immediately in a fire emergency.


In Part 5 of this series, LWF will discuss Rising and Falling Mains in high (and deep) buildings. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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