The London Fire Brigade (LFB) charges for attending non-emergency calls to release a person shut in a lift. From 1 April 2011 the LFB charges on the third lift release at the same building within a year and for all subsequent non-emergency lift releases. The previous charging scheme where a charge was levied at 10 non-emergency attendances in a year will also apply – premises will be charged if either we attend 10 or more times in a year or we attend 3 or more times in a year period starting from 1 April 2011, whichever comes first. The current charge for such attendances is £260 + VAT.
The charging scheme has been implemented to incentivise building owners to tackle the problem of the LFB being called to attend non-emergency lift releases where it has reached an unacceptable level.
The LFB is not required to attend these non-emergency 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.
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.
Suitable arrangements for the routine release of people shut in lifts include:
People shut in a lift must be able to raise the alarm. The LFB should only be called in an emergency.
In 2008/09 one in ten calls received by the LFB was to release a person shut in a lift – over 14,000 calls in a year. Following the introduction of a call filtering system and charges in 2009 there has been a 31% reduction in the number of calls we attend – but this is not enough.
When taking 999 calls about a person shut in a lift, fire brigade control ask callers a series of questions to determine whether or not a fire engine needs to attend. The aim is to find out whether or not there is a real emergency and whether there is anyone else who can release the person from the lift. Firefighters will always attend genuine emergencies where people are shut in lifts and when other means of rescue are not available. Lift owners have a responsibility to have arrangements in place to release people shut in their lifts – and should be the first port of call.
The London Fire Brigade wants to help you reduce the number of shut in lift incidents. Please contact your local team if you would like further information.
If you have received an invoice from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) for lift related services you can appeal against the charge if there are reasonable grounds to do so.