Tuesday, 25 February 2020
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No matter where you die – just not in a lift!

Barrier-free escape routes must be available for barrier-free buildings – without further lift operation, this is scarcely possible. Being able to escape on their own is the best fire protection for EVERYONE.

The future of barrier-free escape routes is the rescue lift. (Photo: © twobee/fotolia.com)

However, in Germany lifts are still put out of operation in the event of fire and are then no longer available as an escape route in the event of fire. In the USA, in skyscrapers where the “International Building Code”, being able to evacuate at least 25 percent of the building’s occupants via lifts has been mandatory since 2015.

This basic code described an evacuation lift for the first time as early as 2009. In the USA, people who cannot take the stairs should be able to get outdoors safely.

Further operation of lifts in the event of fire

Evacuation in the event of fire is accelerated if both stairs and lifts can be used for evacuation. This simultaneously realises independent barrier-free escape. But this quantum leap has left no trace on lift companies operating in Germany.

HandwerkYet VDI 6017 “Lifts – controls for fire” [1] made provision for further operation of lifts in the event of fire more than ten years ago. After a review in January 2014 and revision in August 2015, this can now be assumed to be the state of the art.

The fact that the fire controls it describes (static, statically expanded and dynamic) are in general use supports this assumption too. VDI 6017 also applies to passenger/cargo lifts – with the exception of evacuation and fire brigade lifts.

European evacuation lift

The European evacuation lift [2] has been available as DIN CEN since October 2011. In future, it will be inserted as Part 76 in the DIN EN 81 series. This evacuation lift has been a basis for planning in the UEFA/CAFE guidelines for barrier-free stadium construction [3] and in the manual for model buildings of the European Commission [4] since 2011.

In October 2013, a working group of the Hessen Chamber of Engineers drew up the “Draft guideline for safety lifts (barrier-free escape routes).” [5] The VDI 6008 barrier-free living spaces guideline series also includes an evacuation section about lifts in Sheet 4 of November 2017 [6]. Sheet 7 “Barrier-free fire protection” is currently being drawn up. This also goes into detail about escaping independently via lifts.

Part 3 in the DGUV Information, series 215, “Fire protection and barrier-freedom” is likewise in preparation with guidelines for independent escape via lifts for workplaces.

According to the July 2018 building code of German federal state of Hessen, barrier-free usability of escape routes that are suitable and intended for wheelchair users must be explicitly indicated.

No support

HandwerkIt goes without saying: use of buildings by the disabled should not be associated with greater risks than for anyone else! This now has to be realised in practice. Unfortunately, the German lift industry does not support this approach at all. In some projects, there is even massive resistance to the further operation of lifts after fire first being detected.

Although it should be a matter of course nationally that the power supply of passenger lifts is secure in the event of fire, this is often not specified in tender documents as a condition, let alone built.

Point 5.3.2 b) of the Model Service Lines Directive (MLAR) [7] specifies the duration the function of service lines should be preserved: in the case of passenger lifts with a fire incident control, this should be at least 30 minutes, excluding service lines inside lift shafts or machine rooms.

No additional expense

This had already been specified in all previous MLARs in September 1993 in the construction provisions of the building codes. Point A “Fire control of lifts” [8] of the new MVV TB (Model Administrative Regulations Technical Construction Provisions) continues to prescribe this.


Since passenger lifts need a working power supply for further operation in the event of fire, there should not really have been any new lifts for many years without a fire-protected power supply. Consequently, the first step to further operation in the event of fire does not involve any additional expense.

The goal is equivalent operating security for escape routes and escape time to the ground floor outdoors for everyone. In this way, Article 3 of the Basic Law can be implemented, “No one may be disadvantaged due to their disability.” Not in the event of fire either!

Maynhard Schwarz
The author is a specialist engineer for fire protection and a fire inspector.



[1] VDI-Richtlinie 6017-Aufzüge, Steuerungen für den Brandfall- 08/2015

[2] DIN CEN/TS 81-76 Vornorm, Sicherheitsregeln für die Konstruktion und den Einbau von Aufzügen –Besondere Anwendungen für Personen- und Lastenaufzüge– Teil 76: Personenaufzüge für die Evakuierung von Personen mit Behinderungen 10/2011

[3] Handbuch von UEFA und CAFE mit bewährten Vorgehensweisen bezüglich barrierefreien Stadien -Zugang für Alle- Stand 2011 https://de.uefa.com

[4] Handbuch für Mustergebäude der Europäischen Kommission vom Leitungsausschuss des OIB Stand 02.12.2011 http://ec.europa.eu/oib/pdf/mit-standard-building-specs_de.pdf

[5] Entwurf der Richtlinie Sicherheitsaufzüge (barrierefreie Rettungswege) Arbeitsgruppe der Ingenieurkammer Hessen (IngKH) 10/2013 Download Homepage …

[6] Richtlinienreihe VDI 6008 -Barrierefreie Lebensräume- Blatt 4 Möglichkeiten der Fördertechnik 11/2017

[7] Muster Leitungsanlagen-Richtlinie (MLAR) 2015 der ARGEBAU vom Deutschen Institut für Bautechnik (DIBt) 10/2016 veröffentlicht https://www.dibt.de/de/service/bekanntmachungen/"Amtliche Mitteilungen"

[8] Muster-Verwaltungsvorschrift Technische Baubestimmungen (MVV TB) vom Deutschen Institut für Bautechnik (DIBt) 01/2018 veröffentlicht https://www.dibt.de/de/service/bekanntmachungen/"Amtliche Mitteilungen"


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