Architects & Contractors

FEO/Firefighters’ Elevators

Both the Building Code and the B44 Elevator Code reference the use of elevators in emergency situations. The Building Code governs “Elevators for Use by Firefighters,” while the Elevator Code governs “Firefighters' Emergency Operation.”

Unfortunately, the requirements and purpose of each code’s rules and regulations are sometimes confused in tender documents. This can lead to extra costs on the job site in order to pass the final inspection.

Firefighters’ Emergency Operation (FEO)

The B44 Elevator Code makes Firefighters’ Emergency Operation (FEO) mandatory for most new passenger elevators regardless of building height or occupancy. Firefighters' Emergency Operation consists of two parts:

Elevators for Use by Firefighters (or Firefighters’ Elevator)

The determination whether an elevator requires the Firefighters’ Elevator designation is based upon the Building Code “High Building” classification. This depends on multiple factors such as building Group and Division, building occupancy, and building height.

When the Building Code regulations dictate that the building falls under the rules governing High Buildings, then the building is required to have an elevator for use by firefighters. A Firefighters’ Elevator is one that has not only the required operational features from the Elevator Code but also the operational features and fire-resistive construction as per the Building Code. This includes, but is not limited to, additional building safety requirements, such as positively-pressurized elevator shafts, full generator emergency power and Central Alarm and Control Facilities (CACF). A red fire hat symbol on the main floor level entrance door jamb identifies an Elevator for Use by Firefighters.

Universal Requirements

Once FEO is enabled, all elevators must respond to the FAID emergency condition unencumbered by any security provisions in effect. This has introduced a new mode of operation for elevators with security provisions: The elevator microprocessor must over-ride the security system when FEO is enabled. In addition, regardless of whether the building only has FEO or has a Firefighter’s Elevator as well, all elevator shafts must have a pit drain capable of removing 3,000 USGPH of water per elevator.

A Final Word

Since both the Building Code and the B44 Elevator Code include specific requirements that affect the emergency operation of elevators, it becomes a relatively complex matter. Ideally, emergency operation issues should be addressed early in the project design phase in order to avoid extra costs to comply with the regulations later in the process.

Please call Delta if you have questions regarding FEO or Firefighters’ Elevator requirements. We would be pleased to work with you to ensure your emergency operation needs are properly met!