The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Firefighting Shafts – Part 47

June 24, 2019 12:39 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others in the building design business, we have been discussing firefighting and the associated provisions that should be made for the Fire Service to attend and perform firefighting tasks as required. In part 46, we began to look at those general considerations which are incorporated in codes such as Approved Document B and BS 9999. In part 47, we continue from that point and address the considerations given in NFPA 5000.

A firefighting lift installation should include the lift car, the lift shaft and space for the machinery, along with the lift control systems and a fire service communications system for use in a fire situation. 

Passenger lifts cannot be placed within a firefighting shaft unless the lift cars are manufactured in accordance with BS EN 81 – Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts. Particular applications for passenger and goods passenger lifts. Firefighters lifts

In addition to the construction type, any passenger lift placed in a firefighting shaft must be clearly marked with a notice stating ‘Firefighting Lift: Do not use for goods or refuse’ and access must only be gained to the lift from a firefighting lobby.

Goods lifts and service lifts are unsuitable for inclusion in firefighting shafts.

In cases where a firefighting shaft contains a firefighting lift, the firefighting stair within the shaft must serve every storey the firefighting lift serves.

The U.S. Organisation – National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 5000 document provides information on those construction, protection, and occupancy features necessary to safeguard life, health, property, and public welfare and minimize injuries. The standards contained within are for use in the U.S. or in any country where the recommendations contained within this document exceed the requirements in the native country. 

NFPA 5000 uses the term smoke-proof enclosure, rather than firefighting shaft and contains the following general requirements:

The enclosure for a stairway should be designed to limit the potential for movement of smoke and the products of combustion produced by a fire. 

The smokeproof enclosure should be provided with a form of ventilation – either natural, mechanical incorporating a vestibule or by pressurising the enclosure.

A smokeproof enclosure should be enclosed from the highest point to the lowest point by barriers having 2 hours fire-resistance.

In part 48 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the general design considerations in NFPA 5000 for firefighting shafts. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us. 

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact Peter Gyere on 0800 410 1130.


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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