London Fire Brigade

Firefighters save ten builders in dramatic high rise rescue

24 August 2012

Firefighters from the London Fire Brigade carried out a dramatic rescue last night after ten contractors got stuck in a builders’ lift outside the 22nd floor of a hospital  building in Southwark, SE1.

Station Manager Laurie Kenny, who is one of the Brigade’s technical rescue advisors, was at the scene. He said: “When we arrived, the contractors inside the lift were singing to try and take their minds off being stuck. A couple of them were quite nervous but firefighters did a great job at calming them down, it must’ve been pretty hair raising for them being stuck so high up.

“Fortunately, the London Fire Brigade has some of the most highly skilled rescue teams in the country. We’ve also got some of the most specialised rescue equipment available and our crews quickly got to work to save the builders. They fitted harnesses to the men and using ropes, managed to get them from the lift into the building at the 21st floor level.

“I’d like to praise the work of all of the firefighters involved. These incidents are few and far between but they did a fantastic job last night.”

The builders’ lift was stuck about half way up the building and the gap between the lift and the side of the building was around 15 feet.

Crews from the London Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) were at the scene but fortunately it’s not thought that anyone was injured.

The Brigade was called at 1927 and firefighters rescued the men at 2254. One fire engine from Southwark fire station and two fire rescue units – one from Euston and one from Clerkenwell – were at the scene. Around 15 firefighters were present.

The incident comes just weeks before the world’s biggest ever firefighter event, the World Rescue Challenge, where firefighter rescue teams from  across the globe will compete to see which country has the world’s top rescuers. The free event is being hosted by the London Fire Brigade at ExCeL London, which is an Olympic venue and is a chance for firefighters from across the world to practice rescue skills, including the rope rescue skills used at the incident last night.

In July, firefighters from the Brigade were called to reports of a window cleaners’ cradle in a precarious position on the 72nd floor of the Shard, which is on St Thomas Street in Southwark. Contractors working at the site managed to rescue those inside the cradle and no one was injured.


Notes to editors

For more information about the World Rescue Challenge event and to apply for free tickets, go to