If you’ve ever seen those signs in office blocks, shopping centres and high-rise flats stating “In case of fire, DO NOT use the lift, use the stairs” you may have wondered exactly why that sign is there. Well, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t use the lift in a building that is fire, and they’re all related to keeping you alive and well. The first reason you should take the stairs rather than the lift is because the fire could very well short out the electrical system in the building, meaning that if you’re in the lift and you’re between floors you will most likely be stuck there. Within this brings all sorts of problems, primarily the fact that smoke could flood the lift shaft and you could suffocate because there won’t be any air for you to breathe. The fire could also spread to other floors and essentially engulf the lift, with you in it.

The doors to the lift could open on the floor with the fire on it if the fire causes problems with the electrics and the mechanism of the lift. The movement of the left also creates the air to billow, and the effect this can have on fire can be even more devastating. Also, if everyone in a building chooses to use the left as a means of escape, the lift could become too heavy causing it to stop mid-track. In the panic, people may refuse to get off the lift and this will be time wasted that could have been spent escaping down the stairs. This occurs too when people on all the floors press the buttons, slowing the lift down when people could have been using the stairs as a quicker way to get out to safety. Firefighters have far more important things to do without having to rescue people who have ignored fire safety warnings from lifts which have become stuck between floors. If the firefighters are side-tracked and overwhelmed by extra rescue operations when they maybe do not have enough crew members to fight the blaze as well as rescue people from lifts. You may be endangering others’ lives as well as your own by using the lifts in a fire.

Lift maintenance, no matter how recent or meticulous, cannot prevent a lift from malfunctioning in a fire, so you should always heed safety advice and warnings and use the stairs in the event of a fire, for your safety as well as the others around you.