Use of lifts and refuge floors for fire evacuation in high rise apartment buildings

  • YEAR
    Williamson, B. J.
    Demirbilek, Nur
    2010 Conference Papers


ABSTRACT: If current population and accommodation trends continue, Australian cities will, in the
future, have noticeable numbers of apartment buildings over 60 storeys high. With an aging
population it follows that a significant proportion of those occupying these buildings will be senior
citizens, many of whom will have some form of disability. For these occupants a fire emergency in a
high rise building presents a serious problem. Currently lifts cannot be used for evacuation and going
down 60 storeys in a fire isolated staircase would be physically impossible for many. Therefore, for
many, the temptation to remain in one’s unit will be very strong. With an awareness of this behaviour
trend in older residents, many researchers have, in recent years, explored the possible wider use of
lifts in a fire emergency. So far the use of lifts for evacuation has been approved for a small number
of buildings but wide acceptance of this solution is still to be achieved. This paper concludes that
even in high-rise apartment buildings where lifts are approved for evacuation, architects should
design the building with alternative evacuation routes and provide suitable safe refuge areas for
those who cannot use the stairs when the lifts are unavailable.


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