Using elevators in emergencies

Using elevators in emergencies

Due to the growing interest in improving the methods of evacuation after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 he was held a seminar on the use of elevators in fires and other emergencies, to make recommendations on updating standards and regulations. Two task forces, led by the author, will continue to work on the recommendations of the workshop, one group will explore the possibility of using the elevators to bring people out of the building, and the other — the possibility of using the elevator fire.

Tasks Task Force consists of a review of the proposals received at the workshop, the development of the list of priority issues, conducting hazard analysis for each problem and the drafting of standards or changes in the development of recommendations. Target groups are currently at the stage of risk analysis. This article describes the work and the task force is investigating the use of elevators for the withdrawal of people from the building, and the work of the group is considering the use of elevators fire.

The use of lifts for evacuation

The first analysis of the dangers related to the study of the possibility of using elevators during an emergency evacuation of people from high-rise office building before firefighters shut off the elevators. We consider a new process — «Action for evacuation during an emergency» (EEO). This process will enable the use of elevators for people with the withdrawal of five floors with a risk: the floor on which there was a fire, with two floors above it and two floors beneath.

It will take a large number of signs and displays, and training public buildings, as well as helping passengers adapt to the new paradigm, which previously was to use the stairs in case of fire. Signs and displays, operating in real time on all floors will be to inform people about the possibility of the use of elevators; signs inside the cabin will give passengers instructions and voice messages in real time in the lobby, elevators and cabins to provide further information. It will also require training and practical training of public buildings, as well as the presence of rangers on the floors in case of emergency.

It will also require completion of the buildings themselves and the task force will provide its recommendations to the organizations developing building standards, building on the following characteristics:

♦ protection lobbies, hallways and stairwells;

♦ sealing of elevator shafts, halls and stairwells;

♦ presence of smoke detection system / evacuation and sprinkler system throughout the building;

♦ availability of a secure source of emergency power for elevators;

♦ the existence of pointers / voice messages. Although the task force has not yet completed the analysis of risk it assumes this year to start the formulation of recommendations for standards for elevators, construction and electrical systems, as well as for fire organizations. Below are some of the other issues included in the analysis.

♦ awareness of the carrying capacity of elevators

♦ Design pointers / voice systems, and questions of training and education

♦ Seismic activity

♦ The evacuation of the entire population of the building

♦ High-rise lobbies

♦ The unique configuration of buildings and other types of rented premises

• Monitoring, Maintenance and Inspection

Two Task Forces Committee ASME A17 currently conducting hazard analysis for the possible use of lifts in case of emergency. Hazard analysis is almost complete for the high-rise office buildings. Soon will develop recommendations for standards for elevators, construction and electrical systems, as well as for fire organizations, which will begin to phase the development of standards this year.

The most significant recommendation is to require the presence of three high-strength lifts, providing a higher level of protection from fire and other emergencies, allowing the fire to continue to use the elevators. Proposed improvements to provide greater strength lifts include protection from water, smoke and heat; protection of primary and redundant power supplies; have direct access to the secure hallway and stairwell, in which the riser with a fire hose.

Avoiding water damage elevators, including the elevator shaft and the machine room:

• The use of drains, sloping floors, dams around the elevator shaft or screening devices at the sites before the elevator, which may short circuit due to water;

• control of fire load in the elevator lobbies, reducing the possibility of triggering the sprinklers;

• prevent failures in unfortified elevators or common components, which would lead to disconnection of fortified elevators.

Means of protection from smoke and heat are the following:

• sealing system of the elevator shaft, stairwell and elevator lobbies;

• hand tools unlock the emergency exit in the roof of the elevator car on the panel of fire;

• Installation of independent ventilation machine room to the emergency power source;

• Switching to alternative remote air supply when activating the detector;

• a ban on the sprinklers in the elevator shaft (with the exception of the pit) and the engine room;

• ensure adequate lighting (from the normal and backup power supply) to cover the whole of the elevator shaft on the activation of Phase I of emergency work fire (FEO);

• providing emergency lighting around the riser to illuminate it in a smoke;

• Install a smoke control system, supporting operating temperature in the engine room during a fire emergency operation (FEO);

• installation of thermal fire alarms in the rooms, where the solid-state equipment and associated wiring to prevent fire in the elevator of excessive heat;

• standardization of the interface fire alarm;

• providing remote control of the elevators in the Phase II fire emergency operation;

• providing information on the status of the fire lift shafts, machine rooms and cabins. Protective measures of primary and backup power supplies can be the following:

• The use of primary and backup power sources that for two hours can withstand fire conditions designed to lift and enclosed in a protective housing constructively;

• The use of primary and backup sources of power are not designed to operate for two hours in case of fire, designed for elevators and enclosed in a constructive protective housing that can withstand two o’clock fire conditions.

Recommendations for future training of firefighters may contain:

• the safe use of the emergency exit on the roof of the cab;

• awareness of the dangers and prevention of falls;

• Use the emergency stop switch.

The next workshop, which will continue to work in this direction is planned for October 2009. It will hear the report of the two target groups. This seminar will provide an opportunity to conduct peer review of the recommendations and proposed changes to the standards, providing feedback to the target groups.

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