South Yorkshire firefighters deal with 63 lift rescues in a year

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Fire chiefs in South Yorkshire are calling on building owners to do more to stop people automatically calling 999 to release them from lifts, after revealing that crews dealt with 63 rescues last year.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue bosses said firefighters would always be sent to help rescue people in ‘genuine emergencies’ but stressed the emergency service is not the appropriate agency to ‘routinely release people’ trapped in lifts.

It is the responsibility of lift owners or operators to ensure suitable arrangements are made for lift maintenance work and releasing anyone trapped.

South Yorkshire’s Head of Prevention and Protection, Phil Shillito, said: “It’s another aspect of fire service work people probably aren’t aware of. But as well as being time consuming for the fire service to deal with, being trapped in a lift can be frightening and uncomfortable which is why we’re calling on building owners to take responsibility and sort the problem out.

“Firefighters will always attend a call out where it is a real emergency but in many of these cases it should be up to the person in charge of the building whose lift has broken down, to fix the problem.

“Suitable arrangements for the routine release of people shut in lifts include providing a lift release service through a lift engineering or similar company and training staff to release people who are shut in a lift.

“Building owners or lift operators should ensure there are suitable communications in their lifts so that a person shut in can raise the alarm and be reassured that help is on its way.

“Information should be distributed to lift users so that they are aware of the correct procedure to follow if they are shut in a lift.”

Lift releases make up more than 1,400 ‘special service’ incidents South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue crew attends each year, including freeing people from road traffic collisions.