Importance of fire evacuation lifts in Mumbai’s high-rises

The city’s tall buildings often have insufficient fire safety measures in place.

Despite the increasing number of fire accidents, the city has insufficient fire safety and evacuation measures. Since the 1944 explosions, Mumbai has witnessed some of the worst fire accidents. Whether the July 2014 fire of Lotus Business Park in Andheri or the January 2023 fire at RA Residency Tower, Dadar, the residents of Mumbai’s high-rise buildings have suffered the loss of lives and assets.

Data show that the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) receives 6000-7000 emergency calls per year. Of these, nearly 90% are fire-related complaints. The numbers are huge but the fire evacuation solution is rare. During any fire accident, the biggest challenge is to evacuate people on time and reach the higher floors with heavy equipment required for firefighting operations.

The MFB has stated that due to a lack of evacuation solutions, it becomes difficult to reach higher floors faster and safely. Only the first 50 metres of a ladder can be accessed with ease. The usual 90-metre ladder can give access to the 30th floor, but as they go higher, the wind velocity makes it challenging. They do not have any option to ascend high-rises since the available fire chutes can only be used to come down. Therefore, people must understand the importance of a fire evacuation lift. The vertical solution for firefighters and high-rise building residents has been made mandatory by the Maharashtra Energy Department on July 20, 2022, for buildings with heights of 70 metres or more.

The fire evacuation lift is a new ‘public protection equipment’ that helps evacuate people on time and saves lives and assets. The fire evacuation lift is designed with advanced technologies, like IoT. If a fire breaks out in a building, it sends a mass message to the building fire safety system team/security team, lift operator and the nearest fire brigade office. It helps firefighters to ascend high-rise buildings with heavy equipment and carries out the rapid evacuation of people of all ages and abilities.

The fire evacuation lift is designed as per fire lift standards. The cabin is made of non-combustible material and all side panels are filled with ceramic wool with a 2 hr. fire rating. A trap door is provided on the roof for an emergency exit. Most importantly, in such scary situations, the person standing on any floor can communicate with the lift operator because of a two-way communication system. The fire evacuation lift has 30 minutes battery backup in case of power failure.

Mumbai CM, Eknath Shinde, in a statement, urged people and infra developers to follow the evacuation norms for a fire-free state. To control the fire, we need a faster and safer evacuation solution that assists our firemen. Thus, installing a fire evacuation lift means saving occupants’ lives and assets and assisting firemen in timely firefighting and evacuation in high-rise buildings.

(The author is managing director – Spartan Fire Evacuation Lift [Views expressed are personal)


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