Report Released on Use of Lifts for Evacuation from High Rises
Evacuation time is almost always shorter, and chance of survival is almost always greater, making the practice necessary.
reprinted from Liftinstituut Magazine
The English translation of the impressive “Background Report: Evacuation of High-Rise Buildings with Lifts and Stairs” by J. Wijnia (Peutz), J. Wit (Deerns) and R. NoordermeerDeerns is now available at website: www.liftinstituut.com/images/pdf/backgroundreport.pdf. Commissioned by NEN and the Convenant Hoogbouw steering group, with support from Liftinstituut, it is the result of a comprehensive study into backgrounds and options for evacuation from high-rise buildings in the Netherlands, emphasizing the use of lifts. Its most important conclusion is that lifts are always necessary. Experience regarding evacuation from high-rise buildings abroad was also taken into consideration in the creation of this report. Evacuation using lifts is still the exception in the Netherlands. Internationally, however, such use is increasingly common, as the report shows.
Objectives of the Study
In addition to providing clarity regarding the various evacuation options, the purpose of the study was to develop a calculation model to make it possible to determine the optimal evacuation strategy for high-rise buildings in different scenarios.
Calculation Model and Scenarios
What is special about this report is that it not only investigates the technical and other prerequisites, it also focuses upon the use of the lifts in evacuation and offers a calculation model for evacuation times. Based upon five scenarios and the calculation model, it becomes clear under which scenario a building can be evacuated most quickly and safely.
Firefighting Lifts and In-House Emergency Officers
Although the need to use lifts varies, the authors of the report nevertheless argue for always providing the option of using as many lifts as possible, as an alternative to stairs, in the evacuation of high-rise buildings. They also argue for the use of in-house emergency officers, who, firstly, are familiar with the building and its users. Secondly, they can inform and reassure users and alert them to the various alternatives for getting out of the building. These emergency officers can also coordinate among themselves to establish whether everyone is out of the building. The conduct of those present in a building also plays a role here. It has been shown that people remain calmer, and that there is, therefore, less panic, if you offer them various options for leaving a building and if they can practice the exercise regularly. This is one more reason for holding evacuation exercises (and, preferably, accompanied ones) so people know what they have to do and do not stay in the building too long. If a genuine evacuation situation arises, everyone is better prepared.
The authors conclude with an appeal to architects, designers and building owners to do everything to make high-rise buildings as safe as possible. They also suggest holding regular evacuation practices, even though there is no statutory obligation to do so, and ensure that the lifts are suitable for evacuation.
Five scenarios were compared in the study. These were:
- Full evacuation using staircases alone, with people with disabilities being dependent upon assistance
- Full evacuation using lifts alone
- Fractional evacuation using lifts and stairs, with only people with disabilities taking the lift and everyone else taking the stairs
- Full evacuation with stairs or lifts to refuge and transfer levels, with the lifts being used as shuttles from these levels
- Full evacuation, with people given a choice between the use of lifts or stairs