FOI request detail

Escalator fires on the London Underground

Request ID: FOI-0043-1819
Date published: 23 April 2018

You asked

Hi, I would like to obtain information regarding: The number of escalator fires that occurred on escalators at all London Underground stations during the year 1987 (if not possible any year from 1982 - 1992 is also appropriate). The number of escalator fires that occurred on escalators at all London underground stations during the previous year 2017. I would also like to obtain information regarding the cause of these escalator fires and the consequences following them. By fires I am referring to any kind of ignition which may range from a small smouldering that goes unnoticed to a large significant blaze.

We answered

Our Ref:          FOI-0043-1819

Thank you for your request received on 4 April 2018 asking for information about escalator fires on the London Underground.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we hold some of the information you require. You asked for:

• The number of escalator fires that occurred on escalators at all London Underground stations during the year 1987 (if not possible any year from 1982 - 1992 is also appropriate).
• The number of escalator fires that occurred on escalators at all London underground stations during the previous year 2017.
• I would also like to obtain information regarding the cause of these escalator fires and the consequences following them.
We do not hold historical data on the number of escalator fires as the data we hold is from 1993 onwards. There were no escalator fire reported across the network in 2017.

The Fennell Report into the 1987 King’s Cross Underground Fire, contains detailed information on the causes of the escalator fire as well as recommendations following the fire. One of the key strategies taken following the fire was the replacement of wooden escalators across the network.

The report is available online:

We have done a search of our Corporate Archive and identified the following records that might be of interest to you, particularly the highlighted entries:

ArchiveRefNum Title Description Date_Of_Document Location
LT000096/086 Summary of Fires/Smoulderings Involving Lifts and Escalators between 22 December 1984 and 30 July 1987 List of fires described by date, time, location, nature of incident, allocation and whether the incident was reported between the specified dates. 25 Nov 1987 TFL003013
LT000096/098 Fires and Smoulderings on Lifts and Escalators Memorandum by the Principal Civil Engineer to the Engineering Management Meeting EM(87)100, commenting on incidents, and recommendations to extend installation of smoke detection units in escalator machine chambers.  9 Oct 1987 TFL003013
LT000096/104 Serious Escalator Fires where London Fire Brigade Called Handwritten statistics of such fires from 5 March 1959 to 23 December 1985, giving locations and stating whether escalator was wooden or metal. circa 1987 TFL003013
LT000096/107 Incident of Smouldering or Fire Reported on Lift and Escalator Equipment R Henderson's notes on appendix 1 to Mead's memorandum of 9 October 1987, showing the date, the site, whether it was reported, where it was found, and what action was taken. Dates covered are from 2 August 1986 to 13 August 1987 circa 1987 TFL003013
LT000096/110 London Underground Limited (LUL) Fires and Smoulderings on Escalators  Report including further analysis indicating that the increased number of incidents comes from motors and brakes. circa 1988 TFL003013
LT000096/111 Summary of Escalator Fires and Smoulderings 1978-1987 Annotated summary of statistics showing the numbers for the different types and construction of escalators involved.  circa 1987 TFL003013
LT000096/469 Escalator Fire and Smoulderings Core bundle of documentation for the Inquiry on escalator fires and smoulderings, including an index of documents and reports of special occurrences, incidents, memoranda of events from Chief Fire Inspector and Traffic Officer, operational failures and delays, fires and fusings, notes to Department of Transport and logs of events, as well as notes of the internal inquiry.  24 Jun 1969-28 Feb 1988 TFL004855
LT000102/157 Lifts and Escalators Smoulderings 1 of 2  Reports and memoranda on previous fires in Underground stations, including a list of fires that took place between 1 December 1985 and 28 May 1987, with the fires divided into five groups. Also included are concerns about the rapidly deteriorating standards of safety and cleanliness in escalator machine rooms, as the accumulation of rubbish in passageways and a disused subway are revealed as serious fire risks.  19 Sep 1977-20 Dec 1987 TFL002441
LT000102/161 Fire Precautions: Lifts and Escalators  Memoranda on fires and smoulderings on lifts and escalators including recommendations for smoke detectors, waterfog, statistics on fires and fire precautions including the provision of carbon monoxide extinguishers. Also included is criticism of surplus material in escalator machine rooms. 10 Dec 1971-9 Oct 1987 TFL002442
LT000102/172 Fires and Smoulderings  Memoranda on the causes of fires and smoulderings, and questions asked whether there is any relationship between the number of fires and the temperatures of tunnels. Also included is a report of incidents over a year with the aim of reducing such incidents and a list of incidents or fire incidents reported on lift and escalator equipment.  1 Feb 1982-9 Oct 1987 TFL002442
LT000125/007 List of Incidents - Fire and Smoke List including fire and smoke incidents on trains, track, stations, lifts and escalators, engineers train, British Railway trains and non-railway property. 5 Apr 1983-19 Mar 1988 TFL016264
LT000127/007 Incident Reports including Fire and Smouldering Reports and memoranda listing fire and smouldering incidents at various Underground stations including closed stations. Subjects also include a summary of fires and smoulderings on lifts and escalators and smouldering of an escalator at Manor House Station. Sep 1982-3 Nov 1987 TFL001212
LT001900/009 Replacement of Escalator Wooden Parts at Various Underground Stations This file includes memoranda and general correspondence relating to the replacement of escalator wooden components following the King's Cross Fire on 18 November 1987. Also includes minutes of meetings. 1987-1990 TFL019251
LT001900/034 Escalator Fires on the London Underground: King's Cross Fire This file contains King's Cross escalator fire investigation documents including background information, graphs of escalator smouldering, summary of fires on escalators and information and reports on various stations such as Holborn, Leicester Square, Green Park, Victoria and King's Cross, escalator maintenance, cleaning organisation and safety and information on the investigation into the King's Cross fire, escalator replacement, water fog and fire prevention on escalators. There are also minutes of meetings relating to the above issues. 1976-1988 TFL019243

LT000096/089 Summary of Escalator Fires and Smoulderings - 1973-1987  List giving dates, locations, descriptions, escalator type and construction, whether waterfog fitted and whether the London Fire Brigade attended. 8 Jan 1988 TFL003013
LT000096/090 Summary of Escalator Fires and Smoulderings: 1965-1987  Report on escalator fires and smoulderings, with a breakdown by type of fire and escalator type as well as a list of the worst sites. 13 Jan 1988 TFL003013
LT000096/091 Fires on Escalators: March 1958-February 1975  List of incidents with their date, stations at which they occurred, the escalator number, type, location, whether or not London Fire Brigade attended, how the fire was put out and its category. 15 Jan 1988 TFL003013
LT000096/094 Escalator Fires and Smoulderings: Recommendations from Previous Incidents  List of incidents described by date, location and escalator; recommendations made and by whom, and what action was taken. 15 Jan 1988 TFL003013
LT000096/102 Previous Escalator Fires Response by W R Clarke to Bob Mitchell's list of recommendations made by various inquiries, and considering incidents at Leicester Square on 22 December 1984, Green Park 22 January 1985, Manor House 31 May 1985 and Green Park 12 June 1987.  20 Jan 1988 TFL003013
LT000096/093 Summary of Escalator Fires and Smoulderings  List of fires between 1930 and 1987 in either summary form or detailed charts.  21 Jan 1988 TFL003013

If you would like to do a further search of our Corporate Archive Catalogue or would like to visit the Archive to access material more information on how to do this can be found on our website:

If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please feel free to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

[email protected]

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