Fears after unruly fire evacuation at Luton Airport
PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 September 2015
A St Albans woman flying to Lanzarote from Luton Airport was left concerned when wheelchairs and pushchairs were evacuated via a lift when a fire alarm went off.
Abi Cowland said that upon hearing the alarm sound at 5.30am during her recent visit to the airport, she and fellow passengers duly stopped and headed towards the nearest exit.
But, as they made their way through fire exit doors that lead on to a stair well, passengers were told there was no fire in that part of the building and they had go back inside.
Abi said: “Gradually everyone made their way towards one end of the departures lounge as there were people in high-visibility jackets, but no one was saying anything.
“All we could hear was the same siren and message saying to get out of the building.
“It was very unsettling not to be told what was going on. Also, being the school holidays there were children crying.
“I was horrified to see that wheelchairs and pushchairs were being put into a lift to evacuate them.”
Abi said that it took around 30 minutes to get everyone outside, which she felt was far too long.
She added: “Where I work, if the alarms go off we have to get the visitors out as soon as possible, even if we know it’s a false alarm, so I am curious to know why this did not happen as the staff themselves looked confused.
“Coming home was just as annoying as we had a three-and-a-half-hour delay due to a technical fault on the plane before it left Luton.”
A spokeswoman for Luton said: “The safety of passengers and staff is our priority and all fire regulations were fully adhered to during the recent terminal evacuation.
“The airport is divided into distinct ‘zones’. When a fire alarm is raised in a particular zone all mechanical systems in that area are automatically disabled for reasons of safety. Mechanical systems, including lifts, remain fully operational and useable in all other zones.”