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Lift Car Emergency Alarms or "Auto diallers"

Every new passenger lift is required to have an emergency alarm to enable users to call for assistance in the event of an emergency entrapment. Such alarm systems are commonly referred to as “auto diallers” because of their ability to automatically dial predefined telephone numbers to allow communication with a rescue service or the lift maintenance company.

All new lift alarm systems must provide two-way communication between the lift car and the rescue service and must also operate in the event of a power failure from a suitable back-up power supply source.

British Standard EN 81-28 Remote alarm on passenger and goods passenger lifts is a harmonised standard which provides a means of conforming to current legislation (Lifts Regulations 1997). The standard describes in detail how the lift alarm system should be designed and how it should operate.

Rescue Service

The rescue service is the organisation in charge of receiving alarm information and rescuing users who are trapped in the lift. They can be your own company, external service providers or your lift maintenance company.

The rescue service in charge of receiving alarms must have the correct reception equipment to handle the alarm information from the lift alarm system and they must be capable of handling two-way communication. Additionally they need to be able to perform the periodic testing of the alarm system.

The rescue service must be available whenever the lift is in use and there exists a possibility of someone being trapped inside the lift car. E.g. if the building is open 24hrs and the lift is in use then the rescue service must be available 24hrs.

It is also essential that the rescue service have the information to determine the address of the building and identification of the lift from which the alarm has originated. This may also include additional instructions for accessing the building outside normal hours or information on any hazards related to gaining access to the lift.

Markings, controls and indicators

Inside the lift suitable marking shall be provided to allow the users to easily understand and identify how to operate the alarm. As a minimum there must be indication that the car is equipped with an alarm system and is linked with a rescue service.

The alarm initiating device/button shall be yellow in colour and identified by an alarm bell symbol.

The lift alarm system shall have visible and audible signals in or above the lift car control/operating panel consisting of the following:

a yellow illuminated pictogram in addition to the audible signal for the emergency alarm transmission to indicate that the alarm has been given.

a green illuminated pictogram in addition to the audible signal normally required (voice link), to indicate that the emergency call/alarm has been registered.

The audible signal (voice link) shall have a sound level between 35 dB(A) and 65 dB(A), adjustable to suit the site conditions. In addition where users may have impaired hearing an induction loop system should be fitted to ensure that clear communication is possible.

Periodic Testing

The alarm system shall also be capable of automatic self-testing and setting up a connection to the rescue service or reception equipment for testing purposes as frequently as required by the safety of users when the lift is used as intended, but at least every 3 days.

As the alarm systems are also required to have a battery back-up in the event of a power failure the alarm systems must also be capable of checking that the battery has a minimum life of 1hr. Where a problem with the battery is detected the system must be capable of initiating a signal to inform the rescue service of the problem.

Owners should arrange for periodic checks of their lift alarm systems to ensure that the systems are operating correctly. Where the alarms are found to be faulty the lift should be removed from service until the alarm is repaired to avoid the risk of someone becoming trapped in the lift without an alarm.

Different systems, different software, different risks

As not all alarm systems are exactly the same the rescue service which is in place needs to have the correct reception equipment to handle the alarm information and be capable of handling two-way communication. Additionally they need to be able to perform the periodic testing of the alarm system.

When lift maintenance service providers or rescue services are changed it is imperative to ensure that your alarm systems are re-programmed to dial the correct rescue service telephone numbers.

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