Fire Side Chat: Elevating Your Expertise

“System-type smoke detectors, or other automatic fire detection as permitted by, located in elevator lobbies, elevator hoistways, and elevator machine rooms including machine space, control room, and control space used to initiate firefighters’ service recall, shall be connected to the building fire alarm system” (Section, NFPA 72, 2007).

There are several other criteria that must be observed before code-compliant elevator recall is achieved. For example, Section requires said smoke detectors reside no more than 21 feet away from each elevator door.

Other types of automatic detection may be permitted in extenuating circumstances, which is covered in Section A good example is the installation of a smoke detector in an environment that could prove counterproductive to its operation. Here the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) might allow a fixed or rate-of-rise heat detector.

In addition, where elevator lobbies have a ceiling higher than 15 feet, Chapter 5 — an integral part of NFPA 72, 2007 Edition that covers initiating devices — must be used to determine spacing.

To be sure, the only time a smoke detector can be installed in a hoistway is when that space is sprinklered. The only exception is when the same smoke detector is intended to operate the elevator hoistway smoke relief equipment.

The reason for this is quite simple. The presence of a smoke detector helps to assure detection of a developing fire in its early incipient state for the purpose of recalling the elevator. This should occur prior to the generation of sufficient heat to trip the heat detector, which would cripple the elevator, possibly stranding the occupants between floors.

Fire technicians should be in close contact with the architect, electrical engineer (EE), or elevator provider when making decisions regarding smoke and heat detectors for elevator safety use.

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About the Author


Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.

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