CAFAA Identifies Fire Code Contradictions for Elevators


In California, the codes for the interaction of fire detection with elevator systems are not only up and down, they’re a bit cockeyed.

That’s the conclusion of the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association (CAFAA) after it held several seminars analyzing the current status of fire detection requirements in the state. In one session, conducted during CAFAA’s annual meeting held Jan. 20-22 in Palm Springs, Bruce Fraser of Simplex in Gardner, Mass., reviewed the various code requirements, which have recently been updated.

“There were so many problems and misunderstandings. The codes didn’t seem to be in sync during the 1990s,” says Fraser. The different cycles in which National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) codes, and local model building codes are adopted by states and municipalities adds to the confusion.

In one instance, elevator shafts that have automatic sprinkler systems must also include a smoke detector; however, alarm companies are often prohibited from maintaining detectors inside elevator shafts due to rules mandated by the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal OSHA). Therefore, some cities are no longer requiring elevator shafts to have automatic sprinkler systems. In Santa Monica, Assistant Fire Marshal Steve Locati is telling dealers to remove the sprinkler systems.

Locati participated in a panel discussion on the subject with John K. Guhl, regulations coordinator for the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Wayne Moore of Hughes Associates, and Al Tafazoli, senior safety engineer for Cal OSHA. The panel was moderated by Shane Clary of Bay Alarm Co., president of CAFAA. Other elevator code discrepancies revolve around the use of water-flow switches with retards or delays and the height requirement for an elevator to comply with the California Building Code vs. the NFPA code.

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