By Graham Barker

30th of April 2015 saw the publication of a revised Standard relating to Firefighting Lifts, EN 81-72: 2015,which replaced EN 81-72:2003.

Almost a year has now passed since the revision was published, yet little seems to be known.

The Standard applies to the exclusive use of a passenger (or passenger/goods lift) by the fire service  to carry firefighters and their equipment to the required floors, in the event of a fire.

Whilst much of the Standard remained unchanged from the previous version, the 2015 revision does contain updates providing us with the opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with the latest thinking.

The number of Firefighting Lifts, and their location within the building, are determined by national Regulations and are an important tool for fire attack, transporting firefighters and equipment and for evacuation under the control of the firefighters.

A Firefighting Lift, unlike a normal lift, should be designed to operate for as long as is practicable when there is a fire in the building.

Here is our simple guide to the requirements for Firefighting Lifts, for full details please refer to the standard

Lift design

Some of the key elements which need to be included within the Firefighting Lift design are:

  • The minimum rated load of the lift is 630kg
  • The minimum interior lift car dimensions is 1100 mm wide by 1400 mm deep
  • The minimum clear opening entrance width is 800 mm
  • If the lift is to be used for evacuation, and the use of a stretcher or bed, then the minimum rated load is 1000 kg. The minimum interior dimensions are 1100 mm wide by 2100 mm deep
  • The lift is capable of reaching the top floor within a time of 60 seconds (for travels up to 200 m)
  • All electrical equipment within the lift well is protected against water ingress to the appropriate IP rating
  • A trap door is provided in the lift car roof for purposes of escape from the lift car by firefighters.
  • Additional ladders are provided to facilitate escape from the lift car
  • Additional lift control system features are required above that which would be incorporated on a non-Firefighting lift

Building design

Some of the key elements required of the building design are:

  • Measures are taken to minimise the ingress of water into the lift well, e.g.:
  • Drainage channels in front of each landing entrance
  • Ramping up of the finished floor level in front of the lift entrance
  • Where measures such as those above are not taken to prevent the ingress of water into the lift shaft, then measures are taken to prevent water build up in the pit e.g.
    • Drains to prevent water reaching a defined level
    • Permanently installed draining pumps to remove the water. The pumps are fitted outside of the lift shaft, and provided with a secondary power supply

NOTE – as the water from fire hoses is of high volume and pressure, it may be appropriate to install pumps/drainage measures even when the measures to minimise ingress of water have been taken.

  • The fire design strategy will determine the requirements for a Firefighting Lifts
  • Fire resistance of doors, walls, etc. are in accordance with the fire regulations and fire strategy
  • It is not automatically necessary for a Firefighting Lift to serve all floors within a building
  • Where the distance between lift landing entrances is greater than 7 m, intermediate escape doors are provided
  • Through-car lift arrangements with the firefighting entrance on either side are permitted
  • Any compartment containing the lift machine and its associated equipment are provided with at least the same degree of fire protection as is given to the lift well
  • A suitable fire resistant structure of the building is provided, including fire protected lobbies, fire detection and extinguisher systems etc.
  • The firefighters lift is located in a well with a fire-protected lobby in front of every landing door. The area of each fire protected lobby is given by the requirements for the transportation of stretchers and the location of the doors in each single case
  • If there are other lifts in the same lift well, then the common well fulfils the fire resistance requirements of a firefighters lift wells. This level of fire resistance also applies to the fire protected lobby doors and machine room
  • Where there is no intermediate fire wall to separate the Firefighting Lift from other lifts in a common lift well, then all lifts and their electrical equipment have the same fire protection as the Firefighting Lift, to assist correct functioning
  • A secondary power supply is provided, and located in a fire-protected area. Reliability of power supplies and circuitry is essential to the operation of the Firefighting Lift


A few more general considerations are:

  • The lift can be used as a normal passenger lift at any time other than in the event of fire
  • To reduce the risk of the lift entrance being obstructed when the lift is required to operate on firefighters’ service, its use for moving refuse or goods should be restricted.
  • In the event of fire, lifts should not be used
  • The Firefighting Lift’s electric power supply cable(s) is fire protected
  • The secondary supply may be an alternative supply from a separate substation, but more likely will be from a backup generator
  • Post construction, maintenance procedures are put in place to check that firefighting lifts are correctly maintained and available for use when required
  • If a sump pump is used, it is located outside of the lift shaft and have a secondary power supply

I hope that this blog provides you with an insight into the changes to the Firefighting Lift requirements. For more information please see our information leaflet.

For further information refer to the standards, or contact the Cundall Vertical Transportation team on 0121 262 2720.

Join the conversation! 26 Comments

  1. Very good information on fire fighting lifts.It may be worth extending this document to include information on the eye bolts required on each floor to aid in the rescue of a trapped firefighter.


    • Thank you for your positive feedback. The use of eye-bolts on the landings relates to the provision in EN81-72 to provide a means from outside of the lift car to rescue trapped firefighters. The local authority should be consulted to understand the applicable approach to firefighter rescue, in the locality of the installation. Graham Barker


      • how do you deal with the routing of the essential and non essential supplies to the auto change over unit .if you are unable to have a diverse route.


  2. If sump pumps are to be installed for pit drainage, are there any specific requirements for a duty/standby arrangement? It doesn’t appear to be mentioned in EN81-72


    • Thanks for your interest in the blog.

      Where sump pumps are to be installed they need to be suitably sized to handle the likely volume of water which may enter the lift and to maintain the water level below the maximum allowable level so as not to interfere with the lifts operation.

      Pumps should be fed from the secondary power supply, should be located outside the lift well, and be able to be maintained without need for accessing the lift shaft.

      Drainage solutions are preferred to pumps where possible.

      Annex E, section E.3 of EN81-72:2015 may be worth a read.

      Graham Barker


      • Thanks Graham,

        There is no specific requirement for duty/standby pump arrangement noted in this section and therefore I believe it can be reasonably surmised that a single pump (per pit) with a secondary power supply is sufficient on the proviso that the required duty is achieved.


  3. Hi Michael
    Many thanks for your question posted on Cundall conversations. As this is a technical question that needs a greater understanding of the wider configuration I would recommend contacting Our VT team direct, who can advise you of the consultancy services we can provide.


  4. Every tall structure in the uk should have fire lifts , even 4 story blocks are consumed by fire . More education is Needen in councils , parliament an many construction firms , failure is far to common these days , fire fighters need access far faster than is the present situation.


  5. Where should the ATS Display be located? Can it be placed discreetly in a riser cupboard.

    Please also refer me to the relevant regulation confirming this.


  6. Hi Lawrence,
    I hope this extract from EN81-72 helps – “The source of the secondary power supply and the automatic switch gear shall be located in a fire protected area”


  7. Can a Goods Lift share a fire-protected Lift Lobby with a Fire-fighting Lift?


    • Thanks for your interest in our article. Your query is quite specific and concerns not only the firefighting lift design but also the fire strategy and management system for the building, we would suggest you consult a fire engineer for project specific advice.

      Cundall can provide you with Fire Engineering advice if this is of interest to you.


  8. Thanks for a very very informative article. Regarding alternate power supplies, Does the EN specify a minimum time period that the supply should be available, for instance 1 or 3 hours?


    • Thanks for your comments. The secondary power supply should be available to run the lift at rated speed and load for a period of time equal to the fire integrity of the structure.

      Thanks, Graham


  9. Can we run a primary or secondary supply for the fire lift in the fire lift shaft?


  10. Thanks for your question – the only equipment which can be located within a lift shaft is lift equipment. As the supply cable is for the lift alone, then it could be located within the lift shaft, however any automatic changeover switch could not be located within the lift shaft as it would need to be accessible for maintenance purposes.


  11. Can I have clarity over the signage of such a lift on each floor to differentiate it from others in the vicinity? (Im mindful both of Firefighters but also not to confuse residents)?


    • Thanks for your question – a Firefighters lift is identified at the Fire service Access Level (FSAL) and within the lift car by means of a specific pictogram. It isn’t a requirement of EN81-72:2015 for signage to be provided at levels other than the FSAL.

      Hope this helps

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks- whilst it isnt a requirement, would it be Best Practice on the other floors (thinking of disorientation)?


  13. Very informative
    Thank You for the insight

    Do you offer CPD events/ lectures/ presentations etc ????


  14. What is height for ramping up of the finished floor level in front of the lift entrances?


  15. Hi Mohamed – thank for the question. Typically a ramp 25mm high above finished floor level is provided in front of the firefighting lift entrance


  16. Its really great thing, great effort, thank you sir


  17. its really amazing thing, great effort, thank you sir.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Graham Barker, Vertical Transportation


, , , , , ,