Does a sprinkler in a LULA elevator pit mandate elevator recall?

sprinklerI get this question on occasion when there is confusion over the relationship between elevators and sprinklers.  The short answer is probably not.  The base requirement of ASME 17.1 (2007) Sec. 2.27.3.2.1(c), which calls for fireman’s service if a sprinkler head is in the hoistway, is exempted for electric Limited Use/Limited Access (LULA) elevators by Sec. 5.2.1.27.  [Update: The ASME 17.1 (2010) version Sec. 5.2.1.27 {electric} and 5.2.2.14 {hydraulic} removed the exemption of phase 1 for LULA elevators.]  As to whether the sprinkler head triggers a different requirement, we have to match code intent with site conditions. The intent of detection in an elevator shaft is to take pre-emptive control of the cabs before a sprinkler head’s activation, in order to prevent the loss of cab control with people in it (wet brakes, wet electrical controller, etc.). Per ASME 17.1 Section 2.8.3.3.2, “…where elevator equipment is located or its enclosure is configured such that application of water from sprinklers could cause unsafe elevator operation, means shall be provided to automatically disconnect the main line power supply to the affected elevator…”. The word “could’” in the code reference leads to a subjective interpretation by the elevator inspector, but so long as control equipment or wiring are not threatened by water from a sprinkler head in the pit, its mere presence doesn’t trigger any required fireman’s service.  ASME 17.1 requires wiring in the pit that is subject to water exposure be installed in a watertight manner and I can’t imagine a designer putting an elevator controller in a hoistway pit!

Summary: If the elevator inspector’s stance is that elevator control equipment or cab brakes are subject to malfunction due to the pit sprinkler’s activation, then he’s correct if he says fireman’s emergency operation is now required. If that’s the case, and if the 2007 or earlier version of ASME 17.1 is being applied, recall is technically not required, but an automatic means of power disconnection needs to be in place and getting people off the elevator before the loss of power is imperative.  Installing the control equipment in a space away from sprinklers can help avoid having to implement fireman’s emergency operation if not otherwise required.  If the controller or cab is not threatened by water from a sprinkler head and the elevator inspector is saying fireman’s emergency service is required just because the sprinkler’s in the pit, then he’s misinterpreting the code.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need additional information. Be sure to check my other posts regarding elevator integration with fire alarm systems and to use internationally supported Gamewell – FCI products!

Gene Rowe
Affiliated Fire Systems
Downers Grove, IL

About Gene Rowe

Gene Rowe serves as the Director of Business Development for Affiliated Customer Service. He brings twenty three years of fire alarm and emergency voice systems experience to the table with both an operational and marketing viewpoint. A US Army veteran, NICET certified, an executive board member of the IL-AFAA and a member of the NFPA, he began his career establishing operational expertise as a technician, developed graphic skills with CAD design as a general engineer, gained a ‘big picture’ mindset by moving to project management and finally a marketing perspective directing business development efforts. By interfacing with a broad range of diverse organizations such as the AFAA, CAA, AIA, CEA and the IFIA, he combines concerns of the owner, designer of record, contractor, distributor and approving authority to bring a unique perspective to Affiliated.

An avid marathon runner, he resides in west suburban Chicago with his wife and two sons. He's served the community as a Cub Scout Leader, as well as coaching multiple levels of travel and park district basketball and baseball teams. Professionally, he serves as the Treasurer and is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (IL-AFAA).

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