THE TIME TO INSTALL FIRE EVACUATION LIFTS IN HIGH-RISES IS NOW
The Fire Evacuation Lift, as a right mechanism, has the girth, capacity and speed to rescue and reduce human losses in minutes, which is so crucial during fire breakouts in high-rises.
September 13: The recent fire incident on August 28th in Central Mumbai’s Byculla, where the fire broke out on the 14th floor of a High-rising building, has once again underlined the need to immediately implement the Circular issued by the Maharashtra Government’s Energy Department, making installation of Fire Evacuation Lift in High – rise Buildings with 70-meters and above in heights across Maharashtra. The need to have such Fire Evacuation Lifts has become all the more important in a city like Mumbai, where the High – Rise Buildings are just growing in numbers and do not have proper fire evacuation mechanisms in place. According to the data shared by the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB), Mumbai has witnessed about 22,765 fire incidents in the past five years. The report also specifies that 324 fires were reported in the city’s high-rises alone between January 2020 and October 2021 period.
The city’s high-rise buildings present the foremost unique challenge of Evacuation of people across all age – groups, including the elderly, women, children, ill-health people and even pets. During fire emergencies, these include factors like evacuation time, the distance of the ladder to reach the higher floors and Fire Officers reaching higher floors rapidly. In the event of a fire emergency, evacuation of people and assets in the High – Rise Buildings happens via the staircase in most cases. At this point in time, a customised and dedicated Fire Evacuation Lift is an answer to sub-standard evacuation solutions. And, with a new Circular issued by Maharashtra’s Energy Department making the ‘Fire Evacuation Lift’ mandatory for High – Rise Buildings scaling 70 meters and above in heights, will now ensure a full-proof evacuation cover to people and assets in Maharashtra.
Perhaps, the question on one’s mind right now is: what difference would a fire evacuation lift make? It will make a huge difference. Let’s look at the challenges that come up when a fire breaks out in a high-rise building with 70-meter and above in height. There have been instances when the internal fire-fighting system has failed, forcing the Fire Officers to rely on their own equipment. If a fire breaks out on a higher floor that is not within reach of the fire department’s turntable ladders, external support (from outside the building) to control a raging fire is inaccessible, and evacuation operations become difficult. Another major challenge confronting the fire department is the city’s traffic congestion, due to which it takes a long time to arrive at the fire spot. A ‘Fire Evacuation Lift’ is able to tackle all these problems that require instant action and speed and has the ability to evacuate a group of 10-18 people of all ages and abilities, including pets, at one given time in less than three minutes (i.e. almost 100 people in 30 minutes approximately). It also enables the Emergency Response Team (ERT) to reach any floor within a minute to fight the fire, save lives and assets and thus reduce losses.
With cutting-edge technology in place in a Fire Evacuation Lift, when a fire breaks out in the building, mass notification is sent to the building’s fire safety system team/security team, the lift operator, and the nearest Fire Brigade Office. The lift also enables a two-way communication system, which means anyone standing on any floor can communicate with the operator.
Apart from exhibiting a high–level efficiency, the Fire Evacuation Lift can also be customised to match the design of an existing or new high-rise building. Its cabin is made of non-combustible materials, and the sides have panels filled with ceramic wool that can withstand fire for up to two hours, which is of great help during an emergency evacuation of people trapped in a fire. In the event of a power failure, the lift has a 30-minute battery backup.
All these factors contribute to the reputation of the Fire Evacuation Lift as a vertical fire brigade, and rightly so! All should maintain that every High-Rise Building scaling 70-meters and above in height needs to install a fire evacuation lift, as has been made mandatory as per the New Circular issued by the Maharashtra Government’s Energy Department in conjunction with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and the Fire Department. What better reasons do we need than that to implement the measures we have taken for fire protection till now and replace them with a more effective one, as it has been mandated now?