What Gives Fire Evacuation Lift An Edge Over Fire Lift?

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Dr. Vikram Mehta (MD of SPARTAN FIRE EVACUATION LIFT)

Maharashtra, the western state of India, is one of the country’s most prominent real estate markets. The predominantly growing taller structures and demand for housing have become the global bright spot of the state’s economy. As per MahaRERA 1.6 crore citizens are waiting for homes, and about 14 lakh homes are under construction. Mumbai the capital city of Maharashtra is known for having the biggest concentration of high-rise constructions in India. Currently, the city has around 12,000 high-rise buildings under construction. With the increasing number of constructions, the safety and reliable equipment becomes the prime suspect. The Lift being the lifesafety guard in the building needs to have extra attention. Especially, the evacuation lifts in such high-rise buildings for rescue operations during fire emergencies.

To address this concern, the Maharashtra Lift Act and Rules aim to ensure the safe and efficient operations of lifts and Elevators in the state. But, for the growing heights of buildings, we do not have an adequate safer evacuation lift to save lives and properties worth crores during fire emergencies. As per old provisions we have Fire Lifts, which can only be used by the Firefighters to reach higher floors and not by the residents. These lifts have many restrictions when it comes to high-rise buildings having a height of 70 meters and above. The previous fire incidents have proved that the Fire Lift is not a practical option for evacuation in high-rise buildings. Because it will not work during a fire incident due to a shortage of electricity, plus these lifts are not fire-resistant, the smoke can enter easily and will result in suffocation. If we look at the numbers in the last ten years alone, Mumbai reported 1,568 high-rise fire incidents, damaging property worth over Rs. 90 crores.

In the year 2021-2022, the Fire Department responded to 12,815 emergency calls, of which 3,484 were fire incidents, 5,557 were rescue calls, and 3,985 were other incidents. A total of 15 people died in these fire incidents, and 110 people including 9 firemen were injured. The common reason for injuries and deaths were inhaling excessive amount of carbon monoxide. As a question of people’s lives, the Maharashtra State Government, Fire Department, and Municipal Corporations are jointly working towards making robust infrastructure for fire prevention and precaution. On 20 July 2022, the Maharashtra Energy Department came with an enactment for the safety of high-rise buildings in which they have asked to install fire evacuation lifts in new high-rise buildings of height 70 meters and above. They have made specifications to avoid fraudulent cases, which would lead to no mishaps going forward.

Now, for the builders and homebuyers, it is important to understand the consequences of not having an evacuation solution in the building. The Builders and homebuyers should think that in the event of a fire, can a regular fire lift be used to evacuate people. Can it function in the event of a power failure? Certainly not; the regular fire lifts are technically and by the rules are not used in the event of a fire as it descends to ground level and shuts down in the event of an alarm. However, on the other hand, the fire evacuation lift can assist the firemen to evacuate people on time and douse the fire. A fire evacuation lift is a solution that is specifically designed for the safe evacuation of people of all ages and disabilities during fire incidents, particularly those who require level access. The fire lifts have limitations to a mass evacuation.

Here is What Gives Fire Evacuation Lift An Edge Over Fire Lift?

  1. The cabin of a fire evacuation lift is made of non-combustible material, and all side-enclosed panels are filled with ceramic wool with a 2-hour fire rating. In contrast to fire evacuation, the cabin in the fire lift is made of an ordinary sheet metal panel, which cannot withstand fire.
  2. In the fire evacuation lift, there is a two-way communication system; anyone standing on any floor can communicate with the lift operator during fire accidents. However, in the fire lift, a standard intercom system is available. Furthermore, no call button on each floor, making communication difficult during fire emergencies.
  3. If the diesel generator and primary power supply fail, the fire evacuation lift can be run for 30 minutes using the battery backup. However, there is no provision for battery backup in a fire lift.
  4. The fire evacuation lift is safer and faster for evacuating aged people, people with disabilities, children, and pets. However, it’s not seamless in a fire lift, and has been advised against using it.
  5. During such fire emergencies, the fire evacuation lift has a trap door on the roof that facilitates the evacuation. However, there is no trap door in a fire lift.
  6. The landing and car door in a fire evacuation lift has a 2-hour fire-rated vision panel, which helps the fireman avoid fatigue. Due to the lack of a vision panel on the car and the landing floor in the fire lift, the fireman cannot see the floor condition from the lift car and must step out. They are frequently unaware of the smoke situation on the floor, which causes fatigue.
  7. The fire evacuation lift has an IoT (Internet of Things)–based control panel that sends automatic notifications to the nearest fire department, society members, and residents in the event of a fire. It has features that allow the user and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to access real-time data such as total operating hours, day-by-day operating hours, fault history, etc. Everyone, from the users to the fire department, is alarmed by the faster and simpler communication process. However, all these features are missing in a fire lift.
  8. Fire evacuation lifts can be used as passenger lifts in non-emergency situations but have additional functions and capabilities that allow them to shift into an emergency state if necessary. Similarly, other people may use the fire lifts in normal circumstances, but in fire emergencies, only firemen can operate the fire lift.
  9. The fire evacuation lift can accommodate 8-15 people, whereas the fire lift has a capacity of 8 people. A fire evacuation lift can save 100 people in almost 30 minutes.

Laws and regulations protect the safety of users and prevent loss of life in fire-related accidents.