The London Fire Brigade wants to be called when there is a genuine emergency but says only 57 of the nearly 6,500 lift rescues last year were medical cases.

Fines Set for 999 Calls in Non-Emergency Elevator Incidents

The London Fire Brigade will charge the building owners £290 plus VAT when its personnel are called for incidents that are not emergencies.

The London Fire Brigade has decided to penalize building owners who persistently call 999 when people become stuck in elevators but there is no real emergency. Its announcement listed 10 buildings to which firefighters were called anywhere from 13 to 27 times because someone was stuck in an elevator. Only 57 of the almost 6,500 elevator rescues in the past year were medical cases, according to the brigade.

The brigade's rules call for it to recover £290 plus VAT from the owners of buildings and lifts when firefighters respond to non-emergency callouts. The charge will be assessed beginning with the third occasion firefighters are called to the same building within a 12-month period. The rules are part of the Fifth London Safety Plan.

"Since November 2009 firefighters have attended around 7,400 fewer lift releases a year, equivalent to £2 million of the Brigade's time and resources. But new figures show that last year fire crews in London still attended a total of 6,430 lift rescues -- around 17 each day," according to the brigade, which stressed in the announcement that it always wants to be called when there is a genuine emergency.

"It is encouraging to see a reduction in lift callouts, however, firefighters are still attending 17 lift rescues each day. We hope this tough new charging scheme will send a clear message to building owners that this is not acceptable," said James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. "As well as being costly for the fire service, being trapped in a lift can be frightening and uncomfortable, which is why we're calling on building owners to take responsibility and sort their shoddy lifts out. Firefighters will always attend a callout where it is a real emergency, but in many of these cases, it should be up to the person in charge of the building whose lift has broken down to fix the problem."

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