A fire service has criticised building owners who fail to properly maintain their lifts.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) was called to more than 400 incidents of broken- down lifts across the county last year at a cost of £250 an hour.
If each incident took an hour to complete, it would have cost the service more than £100,000.
The service is now calling on building owners to take more responsibility for lift maintenance and said relying on fire crews when things went wrong was unacceptable.
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Last year ESFRS was called to 189 jobs to release broken lifts in Brighton and Hove alone. In comparison, West Sussex Fire and Rescue attended just 193 lift release jobs across the county in 2013.
Private firms and housing associations are under no obligation to replace or repair faulty lifts. However, around 90 lifts fitted in the 1960s and 1970s across 50 council blocks in Brighton and Hove are already being replaced.
To date council engineers have replaced lifts at Essex Place, Tyson Place, St John’s Mount, Courtlands, Ecclesden, Highleigh, Normanhurst, Richmond Heights, Albion Hill, Sanders House and a trio of blocks on the Bristol Estate.
Lifts at Theobald House, Thornsdale, Hereford Court, Leach Court, Philip Court and Nettleton Court could be replacedbythe start of next year.
Council bosses are also proposing to replace lifts at Dudeney Lodge, St James’s House, Wiltshire House, Elwyn Jones Court and Highcroft Lodge during 2014/15.
Brighton and Hove City Council said the new lifts should mean fewer breakdowns and a more reliable service for residents.
Aspokesman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue said: “ESFR is obviously concerned for the well-being of anyone who finds themselves shut in a lift that won’t open, particularly if they are in distress, need medical help or there are children involved.
“However it should be noted that proper maintenance contracts and management of those contracts could avoid the need to call in firefighters. Any businesses or property owners should check the alarm system works and that there is a clear process in place for quickly contacting an engineer.
“It is not acceptable to rely on the Fire and Rescue Service as our firefighters may be needed at real emergencies where lives are at risk.”