Bedfordshire fire crews free people from lifts more than 800 times

Though fewer people found themselves trapped last year due to the pandemic

By Joanna Morris
Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 12:12 pm

Bedfordshire fire crews rescued people from lifts more than 800 times in a decade, figures show.

Shop and office closures throughout the coronavirus pandemic contributed to fewer people finding themselves trapped in lifts last year, according to the National Fire Chiefs Council.

But despite the impact of lockdown measures, the Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service still had to perform 49 lift rescues in 2020.

Fewer people found themselves trapped last year due to the pandemic

That was 35 fewer than the 84 carried out the previous year.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called for building owners to take responsibility for the maintenance of lifts after Home Office statistics showed crews in the area attended 857 "lift release" incidents between January 2011 and December 2020.

They accounted for 6 per cent of all non-fire related calls attended by Bedfordshire firefighters in that time.

Nationally, more than 120,000 lift rescues were carried out over the decade and crews across England were called more than 8,500 times last year to free those trapped.

But that represented a drop of more than a quarter compared to 2019, with a spokesperson for the National Fire Chiefs Council saying Covid-19 had an impact as more people stayed at home throughout last year's lockdowns.

He added: “It may also be reflective of the longer-term work of fire and rescue services in actively requesting building owners ensure lifts are maintained to reduce the instances of lift call outs.”

A spokeswoman for the FBU said residents and workers should not have to put up with subpar facilities and urged building owners to keep lifts in good repair.

She added: “The fire service is a vital public service and no matter what the incident or cause, firefighters will always be there to respond.

“Although people stuck in a lift may not be at immediate risk, it is through no fault of their own and they should not be left stranded for long periods of time.”

A number of fire brigades have introduced charging policies in an effort to recover the costs of attending non-emergency lift rescues where there is no risk to life.

Charges, which differ from service to service, can cost hundreds of pounds per call out.