Fire in high-rise buildings is a nightmare scenario. Fires on street-level buildings are much easier to escape from. There are only a limited number of ways to egress in taller buildings. What’s more, if they become unserviceable during a fire, elevators can become life-threatening. Fortunately, there is an answer. By testing your elevators, you will be able to ensure reliability. Today we are going to talk about elevator testing procedures in Los Angeles. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Elevators Need to Be Tested
Imagine a corridor filled with smoke with only one door at either end. If you tilt this corridor on its side, that is exactly what an elevator is! Obviously, this is a less than ideal scenario. Therefore, it is vital that the elevator automatically transports its occupants to safety. Therefore, you need to ensure that your ‘corridor’, or in this case, elevator, is reliable in its operation. You cannot always rely on a constant power supply during a fire, either. To use an elevator during a fire, it must comply with section 7.14 of the NFPA Life Safety Code.
The good news is that most elevators feature a system known as “elevator recall”. This system ensures that if fire or smoke is detected, the elevator car occupants are automatically transported to safety. This is normally the nearest point of egress, namely the ground floor. Following this, the elevator is rendered inoperative to prevent others from becoming trapped. Elevators also serve another useful purpose. Not only do they allow occupants to escape, but they also provide a means for firefighters to quickly and easily access the upper reaches of the building. As a result of the above, elevators must have dual-phase functionality. This is referred to as Phase I and Phase II.
Here’s what you need to know:
Phase I Elevator Recall
This phase is the elevator’s automatic ability to return the car to a given floor allowing the occupants to escape. Following this, the system should automatically inhibit further use of the elevator.
Phase II Elevator Recall
This is a manual override of the above system that will allow firefighters, with the use of a key, the ability to use the elevator to access floors without fear of other members of the public using it in the meantime.
Who is Responsible for Elevator Inspections?
Normally, the building and elevator owner is responsible for arranging and maintaining the elevators within. While it may seem obvious to some, those who have inherited a previous system from former occupants or made the assumption that it will pass could be in for a shock. The truth is that until you have had your elevator inspected, there is no guarantee that it is in full working order. You might be shocked to learn that it is estimated that nearly half of the elevators in Los Angeles are overdue for an inspection, so there is a fair chance that yours might be among that number. It is also worth remembering that every elevator in your building needs to meet the requirements. While some can be centrally controlled, you will certainly need to ensure that your control system is working.
How Often Do Elevators Need to be Inspected in California?
Each elevator in California is granted a permit showing that it has been tested to a satisfactory level. The requirements are determined by NFPA 72, LAFD Chief’s Regulation 4, and the California building code. Each permit has an expiry date of a year, meaning that each elevator and its associated systems need to be checked on an annual basis.
What Do Elevator Testing Procedures Involve?
The general aim of the elevator testing procedure is designed to assess whether the elevator will work automatically to provide the functionality we talked about above and prevent people from being trapped in the elevator if a fire breaks out. There are other risks involved with elevators, however. Elevators, by their nature, require high-powered electrical motors and metal cables, neither of which mix particularly well with sprinkler systems. An automatic system located in an elevator hoistway will shut off electrical power in the event of a fire. This, too, must be checked.
According to the regulations and codes are given above, the following must be checked yearly:
- All floors or ‘landings’ that the elevator visits must be equipped with working smoke detectors
- The elevator must always return to the main recall floor with the activation of smoke alarms on any floor
- The ‘call’ buttons on each floor must be inhibited
- On return to the recall floor, the elevator doors must open
- The elevator control panel must be fully functioning
- The smoke detector within the elevator must also be checked.
- How Do You Perform an Elevator Inspection?
According to section 4. B of the Reg 4 procedures, only certified testers can perform elevator inspections. As a result, it is unlikely that you will be able to perform an inspection personally. Aside from being qualified, the above list is extensive. The guidance surrounding elevator inspections can be confusing, bearing in mind that there are 3 different regulations and codes to follow. However, there is a solution. Employing the services of a Professional Fire Protection company can make light work of elevator inspections. Here are some reasons why you might want to consider it: –
- The inspection will be performed by a qualified individual fully conversant in the rules and regulations.
- You can be 100% sure that your elevator is in full working order and entirely safe
- If your elevator is inspected and passed, you won’t face any insurance issues.
- You will get documented proof of the inspection
Fraker Fire Protection Inc provides elevator inspection services in Los Angeles. Our services comply entirely with both the NFPA regulations and local fire departments and building codes. Fraker Fire Protection also offers consultation for your other fire protection systems.
If you are overdue for an elevator inspection or are not sure, then it is well worth contacting us, and we’d be happy to discuss your requirements.