Fireman's elevator (or Firefighter's elevator in the United States, Firefighter's service elevator in Japan is a type of elevator that enables firefighters to use to rescue people who may be trapped on upper floors during an event of a fire in a building. Fireman's elevators are typically normal passenger or service/freight elevators. They have the fireman's service mode activated by a key-switch (for United States, Australia, Germany, etc.) or a toggle switch (for countries in Asia and the United Kingdom).
Fireman's elevator typically identified by a sign that says LIF BOMBA or FIREMAN LIFT.
In Australia (and sometimes Hong Kong, China), some fireman's elevators are designed to allow passengers to use them as part of fire evacuation procedures. They are known as "Protected Elevators" or "Evacuation Lift" and have to meet extra standards and reinforcement to keep passengers safe in an emergency.
Unless the fireman's elevators' usage is permitted or granted by the firefighters, they should use the evacuation staircases safely for evacuation when the building is on fire.
How it works
Active by a key switch
Fireman's elevator operates in two phases; Phase One and Phase Two. In Phase One, activated smoke detectors or hallway key switches direct elevators to a fire recall floor—elevators travelling away from this designated landing reverse direction and proceed without stopping. Upon reaching the designated landing, passengers can exit the elevator and building safely. The elevators are then removed from normal service. Once removed from normal service, the elevators will no longer accept car or hall calls.
During Phase Two, once the elevator has reached its designated landing and all passengers are safely evacuated, firefighters can take exclusive control of the elevator using a special Firefighter’s Service Keyswitch. This Fire Service mode allows firefighters to continue to utilize the elevator to rescue people from other floors.
Active by a toggle switch
Fireman's elevator operates in one phase only if the toggle switch (or triangle-shaped toggle key switch) active, the designated fireman's elevator will go to a fire recall floor (the smoke detectors and fire alarm system also done this as well. Elevators travelling away from this designated landing reverse direction and proceed without stopping. Upon reaching the designated landing, passengers can exit the elevator and building safely. The elevators are then removed from normal service. Once removed from normal service, the elevators will no longer accept hall calls. When the firefighters get in the elevator will don't need to use a special Firefighter’s Service Keyswitch because it is already active by a toggle switch. This Fire Service mode allows firefighters to continue to utilize the elevator to rescue people from other floors because it will stop at the nearest floor by the firemen registered and call cancelled automatically (even if other floors were registered before the elevator arrived the nearest floor).
Fire service mode (EFS)
Fire Service Mode (EFS) is an elevator special mode activated in the event of a fire in a building and used by firefighters for firefighting. Fire service mode is only found in fireman's elevator or some places, and all elevators must be equipped with fireman's operation.
Depending on the location of the elevator, the fire service code will vary from state to state and country to country. Fire service is usually split up into two modes: Phase One and Phase Two.
This mode is activated by a corresponding smoke sensor in the building, a heat sensor in the building or the key switches on the call station in the main entrance level. Once an alarm has been activated, the elevator will automatically go into phase one. The elevator will wait an amount of time and then go into nudging mode to tell everybody the elevator is leaving the floor. Once the elevator has left the floor, the elevator will go to the fire recall floor, depending on where the alarm was set off. However, if the alarm was activated on the fire recall floor, the elevator will have an alternate floor to recall to. When the elevator is recalled, it proceeds to the recall floor and stops with its doors open.
The elevator will no longer respond to calls or move in any direction. Located on the fire recall floor is a fire service key switch. The fire service key switch has the ability to turn fire service off, turn fire service on or bypass fire service. The only way to return the elevator to normal service is to switch it to bypass after the alarms have reset.
This mode can only be activated by a key switch located inside the elevator on the centralized control panel. This mode was created for firefighters so that they may rescue people from a burning building.
The phase two key switch located on the COP has three positions: off, on, and hold. By turning phase two on, the firefighter enables the car to move. In Fire Service Phase Two, the car call can be cancelled by pressing the call cancel button. However, like independent service mode, the car will not respond to a car call unless the firefighter manually pushes and holds the door close button.
Once the elevator gets to the desired floor, it will not open its doors unless the firefighter holds the door open button. This is when the floor is burning, and the firefighter can feel the heat and knows not to open the door. The firefighter must hold the door open until the door is completely opened.
If for any reason, the firefighter wishes to leave the elevator, they will use the hold position on the key switch to make sure the elevator remains on that floor. If the firefighter wishes to return to the recall floor, they turn the key off and close the doors.
Fire Service is for emergency use only, although fire service keys can be purchased on eBay and other websites. Only trained responders should use this feature, and it is by no means a safe way to escape from a burning building.
On some older elevators, the phase two key switch on the COP will instead be labelled "off", "on", and "bypass". The off and on modes are the same as in newer elevators. However, unlike the bypass mode on the phase one station, the in-car bypass mode bypasses the hoistway door interlock and gate switch. It allows the elevator to run in the down direction at inspection speed even if the doors are opened. The intent was to allow the elevator to be operated if the fire or subsequent firefighting operations damaged the door locks. In practice, it proved to be extremely dangerous and is no longer permitted.
Fire service in other countries
In Australia, the recall floor key switch only has two modes: On and Off. On the COP, the switch has three modes: On, Off and Start. Off and On behave like US fire service, but instead of holding the Door Close button or floor button to close the door, turning the fire service key switch to Start closes the door.
The United Kingdom and Asia
Phase 1 is activated only by the fire system in the building. The fire service key is a simple key-switch and sometimes intercom. It is activated by the same key used to open shaft doors (Drop or Triangle) or flip switch protected by a glass, which puts it straight into Phase 2. Inside, no key-switch needs to be set; it can be operated as soon as the external key is set.
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