Faulty lifts costing Londoners �4m bill

FIRE brigade call outs to release people from faulty lifts in Westminster are the third highest in London – costing �4.1million a year across the capital. Firefighters were called 1,355 times in the first nine months of this year, the third worst, behind

FIRE brigade call outs to release people from faulty lifts in Westminster are the third highest in London - costing �4.1million a year across the capital.

Firefighters were called 1,355 times in the first nine months of this year, the third worst, behind only Tower Hamlets and Southwark on 1,688 and 1,543 respectively.

One in every ten calls received by the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is to release a person shut in a lift - the second highest type of incident attended.

Now, LFB will begin charging those who own or manage buildings where firefighters are persistently called out to release people shut in faulty lifts from November 1.


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Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, Westminster's opposition leader, said: "Lift breakdowns on Westminster's Council estates are a real problem for residents.

"Now the LFB's decision to charge persistent offenders like Westminster will make it even more important that lifts are renewed and kept in good working order.

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"The decision to slash the lift renewal budget is going to cost residents a lot of money in broken lift call out charges from the fire brigade."

In 2008/9 the brigade attended more than 14,000 such calls, with each taking up the time of a fire engine and crew, reducing the capacity to attend emergency incidents, carry out community safety work and provide training for firefighters.

Cllr Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: "Public safety is our priority and firefighters will always attend genuine emergencies where people are shut in lifts and other means of rescue are not available.

"However, it doesn't make sense for us to waste firefighters' time and public resources releasing people where there has not been an emergency."

A spokesman for CityWest Homes, which manages the council's properties, said: "We are aware that the fire brigade is concerned about the number of occasions that they are called out to release people from lifts that have broken down.

"As a result, we have put in place a system which advises residents not to call the fire brigade but to call a dedicated emergency number.

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