Using Lifts During a Fire: An Australian Evacuation Design Guide

How do we design lifts to evacuate occupants safely?

As building design standards are being transformed to incorporate accessibility design elements, one aspect of accessibility requirements have not been updated: evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Our National Construction Code (NCC), the Building Code of Australia (BCA) is almost silent on how mobility-impaired occupants, the elderly or hospital patients may be evacuated vertically, other than providing them with stairs, which many are unable to use.

Lifts assist all occupants, but particularly mobility-impaired occupants, to move around buildings safely. It is therefore logical that we should seek to design them to also be able to assist mobility-impaired occupants to evacuate as well. So, the question is, how do we design lifts to evacuate occupants safely?

Fundamentally the key aspects that need to be considered are:

  • Ensuring occupant safety while they wait for a lift
  • Ensuring occupant safety while they evacuate via a lift
  • Ensuring safety when occupants come out of the lift and evacuate the building

The read our latest whitepaper which outlines several key, high-level strategies that should be incorporated into the building design to allow the safe use of lifts in the event of a fire.