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Developed and maintained
by the NFCC

Control measure

Entering a lift shaft to rescue a casualty

Control measure knowledge

Personnel should not enter a lift shaft unless there is a threat to life. A lift engineer should be immediately requested; however, it may not be feasible to defer rescue activity to save life or prevent injury until their arrival. The assistance of any specialist teams should be requested if they may be required.

Before committing personnel to this environment, a risk assessment should determine if:

  • There is a safer way to carry out the required task
  • All practicable steps have been taken to remove or mitigate hazards
  • Safe access and egress can be maintained
  • Safety devices have been activated

A risk assessment should also consider the hydraulic gauge pressure reading. If there is a pressure reading of zero, personnel should await the arrival of the lift engineer before attempting a rescue.

Until the lift engineer can provide specialist assistance, personnel should take the minimum of actions necessary to save life or prevent injury. A safety officer should be appointed if this would be beneficial for controlling activity.

If the lift car is under manual control, personnel should not be committed to the lift shaft, as any movement of the lift car could result in serious injury or death.

It may be beneficial to use joint on-site training and exercises to plan for performing rescues from lift shafts.

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider using joint on-site training and exercises to plan for performing rescues from lift shafts

  • Ensure fire control rooms understand how to contact appropriate lift engineers

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Immediately request the attendance of a lift engineer 

  • Carry out a risk assessment to determine if it is essential for personnel to be committed to the lift shaft

  • Request the assistance of any specialist teams that may be required

  • Commit personnel to the lift shaft to carry out actions to save a life or prevent injury, only if there are no other options and appropriate control measures are in place

  • Not commit personnel to a lift shaft if the lift car is under manual control