Elevator Recall Activation

Elevator Lobby IIII recently had a question asked about whether two smoke detectors are required to activate simultaneously in a single elevator lobby in order for cab recall to be initiated.  The answer is there is no current national code that requires two detectors to activate before recall occurs.  The two detector activation is what we call ‘cross zoning’, and it’s a vestige of the old days.  Before addressable detectors came out, there was a much higher chance of a smoke detector activating due to cigar smoke, dust, etc.  Since elevators can be a valuable means of building egress, code officials needed a way to keep the elevators from recalling before necessary.  As a result, most municipalities required two independently wired smoke detectors in each elevator lobby.  The thinking was if properly spaced, only a large and steady amount of smoke would be enough to set off both of these detectors, so they used that method of verification before recall initiated.  However, any addressable smoke detector installed within the last twenty years is much more reliable and can be programmed to internally verify the alarm condition before it activates, eliminating the need for cross zoning.  The reason you may still see this in some facilities is if the fire alarm system is non-addressable and/or old.

Whether one or two detectors are required in an elevator lobby comes down to the local requirements.  Inertia is a powerful force and many jurisdictions perpetuate old requirements because it may take a lot of work to change a code.  Keeping designers of record, as well as local fire and code officials up to speed on how modern systems operate and their programming options can also facilitate change.  If your local building department, like most, uses ASME 17.1 for its elevator code without exception, ASME 17.1 Chapter states “The activation of a fire alarm initiating device specified in or shall cause all elevators…to return non-stop to the designated level.”  Your local elevator code would have to amend the code to specifically require cross zoning in order for that to be a current requirement.  NFPA 72 (Fire Alarm & Signaling Code) does not mention cross zoning either.

Affiliated Fire Systems has the equipment, expertise and support you need to install a problem free fire alarm and/or emergency voice system. If you have any questions regarding your life safety needs, contact us via our ‘Contact Us’ page on our website, or email me directly at generowe@affiliatedinc.com.

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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