THOUSANDS of people had to be rescued from lifts by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service in a decade.

Between January 2011 and December 2020, fire crews attended 2,156 lift release incidents, according to Home Office statistics.

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, DW Fire still had to perform 129 lift rescues in 2020.

That was 95 fewer than the 224 carried out the previous year.

The Fire Brigades Union has now called for building owners to take responsibility for the maintenance of lifts after Home Office statistics showed crews in the area attended 2,156 lift release incidents.

They accounted for six per cent of all non-fire related calls attended by 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 Fire Brigades Union said residents and workers should not have to put up with subpar facilities and urged building owners to keep lifts in good repair.

Group Manager Graham Kewley, from DW Fire said: “We would encourage all building owners with a lift to ensure that they keep on top of the maintenance regimes and have regular service checks by a competent engineer to keep them in full working order.

“Part of this servicing contract should ensure that an engineer is available for call out within a reasonable timeframe so that anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck isn’t there for extended periods.

“We recognise the difficulty with some lifts in older buildings which may be difficult to source parts for, as well as the heavy use that some lifts get, which can add to the wear and tear.

“This emphasises the need for regular maintenance.

“Building managers should ensure that, where lift faults are identified, the lift is taken out of service until it is fixed.”

Mr Kewley added: “Please remember that lifts have a safe working capacity and we would urge people to consider this before overloading them, either with people or when using them to transport heavy items, such as large furniture, as this can result in the safety systems operating and the lift stopping.”