Fire Safety Functions

By Wayne D. Moore | Sep 15, 2006
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Elevator connection requirements

As many professional contractors know, the building codes, the Life Safety Code and the ANSI/ASME A17.1, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, have specific requirements regarding elevator operation during an emergency.

Elevator recall is a requirement of ANSI/ASME A17.1-2000, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. The code requires elevators to be taken from normal service to travel to a preplanned level upon actuation of specific smoke detectors (or other automatic fire detection devices as permitted by NFPA 72). The purpose of the recall feature is to bring elevator cars to a safe location for passengers to exit and then be available for firefighter use.

In addition, NFPA 72-2002 provides the installation requirements to comply with the enabling codes. What you may not know is that in many jurisdictions, the elevators are required to be upgraded with recall features regardless of whether or not a fire alarm system exists. NFPA 72-2002 has specific requirements in section, addressing the buildings that may not have a fire alarm system but need to have elevator recall.

The section states in part that “In facilities without a building fire alarm system ... smoke detectors or other automatic fire detection ... shall be connected to a dedicated fire alarm system control unit that shall be designated as an elevator recall control and supervisory panel,’’ permanently identified on the control unit and on the record drawings.

The Code Annex explains further that “the control unit used for this purpose should be located in an area that is normally occupied and should have audible and visible indicators to annunciate supervisory (elevator recall) and trouble conditions; however, no form of general occupant notification or evacuation signal is required or intended by”

In addition, NFPA 101-2003 states that devices used for recall and elevator power shutdown are not required to “activate the building evacuation alarm if the power supply and installation wiring to such detectors are monitored by the building fire alarm system, and if the activation of such detectors initiates a supervisory signal at a constantly attended location.”

One of the wiring issues that is important to know is that the relay connected to the elevator controller must be listed for fire alarm use (typically from the manufacturer of the fire alarm control unit—not off-the-shelf items from an electronics supply store) and located within 3 feet of the elevator controller.

The code also requires that the wiring between the fire alarm control unit, relay or other control appliance be monitored for integrity. Once the elevator system has been interfaced with the fire alarm system, NFPA 72-2002 section requires that an operational test be conducted at the time of the fire alarm system acceptance test to verify the correct performance of the elevator fire alarm system interface.
The automatic detection devices used to recall elevators are normally smoke detectors installed in “only the elevator lobby, elevator hoistway and the elevator machine room.”

Elevator lobby, elevator hoistway and elevator machine room smoke detectors are the only devices permitted to initiate elevator recall unless otherwise required by the authority having jurisdiction. This prevents elevator recall from being actuated unnecessarily.

The code also has specific location requirements for the lobby smoke detector. Section states, “A lobby smoke detector shall be located on the ceiling within 6.4 m (21 ft) of the centerline of each elevator door within the elevator bank under control of the detector.”

However, if the ceiling in the lobby is more than 15 feet high, a performance-based analysis is required to ensure the proper location of the smoke detector.

Additionally, the code does not allow smoke detectors to be installed in unsprinklered elevator hoistways unless they are installed to activate the elevator hoistway smoke relief equipment.

If sprinklers are installed in the hoistway, the smoke detector is needed to provide the recall feature before the heat detector or waterflow switch used for elevator shutdown actuates or to provide the recall feature to move the elevator away from a fire in the bottom of the hoistway. Whether or not the hoistway requires sprinklers depends on subsection 8.14.5 of NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Automatic Sprinkler Systems.

To make sure that the final acceptance test will meet the requirements of the authority having jurisdiction, you must ensure that all elevator interface requirements of the code have been satisfied.

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a co-editor of the current National Fire Alarm Code Handbook. Moore is a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. and is located at the Warwick, R.I., office.

About The Author

MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, was a principal member and chair of NFPA 72, Chapter 24, NFPA 909 and NFPA 914. He is president of the Fire Protection Alliance in Jamestown, R.I. Reach him at [email protected]





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