Forced to escape sweltering lift with only a walking stick

An 84-year-old who was stuck in a lift in sweltering conditions says he pressed the emergency button for help but his plea to call out the fire service was refused.

Tony Naldrett, 84, with his walking stick that Richard Roth, 68, used to escape with
Tony Naldrett, 84, with his walking stick that Richard Roth, 68, used to escape with

Diabetic Tony Naldrett and friend Richard Roth, 68, were forced to free themselves from their apartment lift using Tony’s walking stick last Wednesday – the hottest June day in 40 years.

They say they were twice told by staff from Orona, the lift operators for the Reflection development in Chichester, that it was company policy not to call out the emergency services ‘under any circumstances’.

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Neither had their mobile phones so they pressed for help at 3.10pm and they later found out an engineer attended at 5.30pm – meaning they would have been trapped for more than two hours. Mr Naldrett said: “I just cannot believe this dangerous policy forbidding them to call out the emergency services, which was confirmed the next day when we spoke to another person from Orona.

“Suppose one of us had had a fit or a heart attack induced by the calamitous halt (of the lift)? It was boiling in there.”

Mr Naldrett said it was the fourth time he had been stuck in the same lift, twice with Mr Roth. On the other occasions he used his phone to dial 999 and the fire service quickly freed them, he said.

He said because of the heat, and previous experience that an Orona engineer could take three hours to attend, they decided to free themselves.

Mr Roth used his walking stick to trip a rocker switch to open the outside door before getting a step ladder for Mr Naldrett to climb out.

Mr Roth added: “We weren’t prepared to wait in that heat for what would have been two-and-a-half hours so we had little choice.”

Mr Roth has emailed Orona Ltd about the ‘serious health and safety issue’ and put up warning posters in the block.

A spokesman for Pentland Estate Management, managers of the apartments in John Rennie Road, said: “We apologise to the two gentlemen for any inconvenience caused by the events that took place on June 21.

“The lifts at the Reflection development are managed by Orona Ltd who we understand followed their procedure and confirmed that an engineer attended the site.”

Orona has been approached for comment.

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