The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Means of Escape Design – Part 106

November 7, 2022 12:03 pm

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 105, LWF looked at evacuation lifts, in relation to means of escape design. In part 106, we will discuss lift lobbies and refuge floors.

A lift lobby is the area by the entrance to a lift on any floor where people are able to call the lift using the provided controls and wait for it to arrive. A passenger lift lobby should be enclosed in fire-resisting construction to avoid the passage of fire, smoke and other by-products of fire into that area.

The doors installed as entry and exit to the lobby from the rest of the floor may be ‘held open’ by an automatic door release system so that they remain open on normal basis, but release and close when a fire is detected.

The area of the lift lobby should be calculated based upon the number of people likely to need to use the lifts to evacuate the floor in a fire situation. Most evacuation lifts are designed to cater for people with disabilities and those assisting them, rather than the entire population of the floor. However, this may not always be the case in some very high rise developments where evacuation lifts are used for the entire population of upper floors.

While it is not required by legislation, it is often advantageous to install CCTV in lift lobbies to assist building management and the Fire Service in making decisions on which floors to evacuate first when a fire is in progress.

Additionally, it is important to provide information to those people waiting in a lift lobby, waiting for the evacuation lift to arrive at their floor. Real-time signs should be provided to report real-time system status and give the likely time cars will arrive to evacuate those people waiting.

Refuge floors are seen in very high rise buildings where it would be difficult for many occupants (without disabilities) to descend the full height of the building using stairways. Designated refuge floors may be provided every 20 floors or so with signage for the floors in-between to direct those evacuating to the refuge floor. At the refuge floor people may gather to use evacuation lifts under building management/Fire Service control.

The number of people using a refuge floor may be considerable, it is important that realistic numbers of potential occupants are calculated to ensure a sufficient refuge floors are provided for the building occupancy.

In part 107 of LWF’s series on fire engineering we will look at the use of escalators during evacuation. 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 since 1986 to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office 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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