Exploring the Concept of Using Lifts to Assist the Evacuation of Very Tall Buildings

Peter Sumner

Wednesday 21st September 2016

Evacuation times for very tall buildings, whether for planned evacuation, real fire or nonfire emergencies, can be extreme. This paper explores the concept of using lifts to assist the evacuation of tall buildings and discusses the major considerations for building designers. As buildings are getting taller there is a need to consider the safety of occupants during evacuation. The physical exertion that is required to walk down 100+ flights of stairs and in some cases for times in excess of 2 hours can be very challenging for many people. This unexpected physical exertion added to the stress of evacuating a building during an emergency can lead to tiredness, physical or mental injury and fatality. The design of buildings and complete lift systems to withstand the effects of fire, smoke, water and loss of power can be very expensive in terms of equipment and in the potential loss of rentable area. However, depending on the fire and life safety strategy of a given building, an emergency may not require the simultaneous evacuation of all the occupants, therefore, evacuation by lift may not be required from all levels of a building and may not require the use of all lifts.

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