Q: Can you put the elevator recall rules into plain English?
A: There are two instances when the codes address elevator recall installations. The first is where a fire alarm system is required in the building under consideration. In this case, the fire alarm control unit will be used for recalling the elevators in addition to its fire alarm notification duties.
The second instance is where a fire alarm control panel is installed for the sole purpose of monitoring the wiring for integrity and the automatic detection requirements needed for recalling the elevator(s). In this case, the panel is permanently marked "Elevator Recall Control and Supervisory Panel." These control units do not provide occupant evacuation notification, nor are they required to be remotely monitored by your central station. Even the requirement for at least one manual pull station is exempted in 184.108.40.206.2 of NFPA 72 .
The nationally accepted standard for elevator/lift/escalator safety is ANSI/ASME A17.1, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. (it will be referred to as the "elevator code" from here on.) NFPA 72 mirrors their rules to help prevent any conflicting requirements. Of course, some states/cities amend this national standard. Always check for any local or state adopted rules. These adopted safety requirements may not be part of your building code and will probably be overseen by an official Elevator Inspection Department enforcing a state Elevator Code.
The primary purpose of elevator recall is to have the elevator cars at the floor where public safety officials can use them to travel to the fire floor. The secondary purpose of elevator recall is to take them out of service so they are not used by the building occupants in the event of a fire. Public safety officials using the elevators when recall is activated will be delivered to the appropriate recall floor.
The Designated Level (floor) is the level that the fire department has designated as the best place to conduct their "fire command center" activities. It is sometimes called the Primary Level. Here, you find the voice evacuation system, and building fire safety controls (switches controlling fan and damper operations, etc.), all designed to provide the maximum time needed for evacuation and fire fighting. This level may or may not be the best floor for evacuation. The Alternate Level is the firefighters' second choice for these kinds of operations. If the fire command center is remote from any elevator lobbies, there will be a special elevator annunciator installed for the firefighters to see the status of each elevator car and where it is parked. These recall floors/levels must always be determined by the fire department, in advance.
As far as safety functions, three main fire alarm interface functions are specified by the elevator safety codes. These will require the alarm company to provide a minimum of three circuits (pairs of wires). The first of these functions is where smoke is detected in an elevator lobby, hoistway or machine room, and the elevators are recalled to either the Primary or Alternate Level in what is called Phase One Emergency Recall Operation. Two circuits, labeled Circuit #1 and Circuit #2, will be needed by the elevator contractor to accomplish this.
- Circuit #1. If smoke is detected in the elevator lobby on the Designated Level, and then an Alternate Level must be used by the firefighters. Circuit #1 is used to recall the affected elevators to this Alternate Level. Likewise, if the elevator machine room is also located on this primary level (mostly hydraulic elevators), and then it too will be connected to Circuit #1. (All machine rooms are also connected to Circuit #3-see below.)
- Circuit #2. If smoke is detected in the Alternate Level, or any other elevator lobby above the Designated Level, then the elevator(s) will be recalled to the Designated (Primary) Level using the pair of wires you must provided labeled as Circuit #2. Circuit #2 is permitted to be common to multiple initiating devices and different locations. Since this is not a fire alarm system, no further zoning is required.