London

London Fire Brigade: Tougher lift rescue penalties

Businesses in London are to face tougher penalties for calling out the fire service to rescue people stuck in poorly maintained lifts.

Owners of buildings or lifts will be charged £260 if they call the brigade three times in a year, changing from the current 10 times in 12 months.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said firefighters had attended about 10,000 call-outs involving lifts in 2010.

Brigade bosses said there were too many non-emergency call-outs.

Since the introduction of charges and monitoring of calls in 2009, the number of call-outs involving lifts has reduced by 3,600, saving the LFB about £1m.

'Life and death'

Announcing the new tougher penalties, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority chairman Brian Coleman said: "Too many people are still wasting our firefighters' time.

"Firefighters need to be available to attend emergencies where it is a matter of life and death.

"It should not be left to us to clear up after those who do not properly maintain their lifts."

Mr Coleman said crews would always attend a call-out where there was a real emergency and people were in need of help.

But he said: "If it is not an emergency, it should be up to the lift company, whose product has broken down, to fix the problem."

The brigade also said it was using a filtering system on 999 calls to establish whether people stuck in lifts could be released by someone else, such as an engineer.

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