Did you know that Otis Elevator has made an enhancement to their STANDARD elevator frames and doors that will allow the Smoke Guard System Screen to stick to them without the need for rails?
Below is Otis’ product information on their change to a new stainless steel standard for their doors and frames.Download PDF
In the upper left hand corner of the fact sheet, you’ll note the following statement: “Magnetic properties to facilitate smoke seals”. Smoke Guard is the only product for elevator smoke protection with that design.
Why is this significant?
Because the International Building Code (IBC) requires elevator door openings to be protected from smoke migration. Depending on which version of the IBC the jurisdiction has adopted and where the project is located, buildings as low as two or three stories may require some means of elevator smoke protection. The major problem we see is that stack effect pressure (air movement) in the elevator shaft provides an excellent avenue for smoke to spread throughout an the entire building quickly. This is the key reason elevators are brought offline during a building fire and people have to use the stairs. People in New York City may recall that after the first world trade center bombing, which occurred in a basement parking garage, the top floors of this 102 story building were filled with toxic black smoke within a period of just 4 minutes.
What options are there to meet the code requirement?
There are several options. Depending again on jurisdictional building code adoption and amendments, a building designer could use additional smoke doors in front of the elevator door, a smoke lobby or vestibule with smoke partitions and smoke doors that magnetic hold open, shaft pressurization or ICC ESR approval alternatives such as fire rated accordion doors, or Smoke Guard deployable plastic screens with magnetic edges.
What options are not allowed?
Because the building code also requires that nothing be put in front of the elevator door that would requires special tools, keys, or knowledge to open, rolling steel doors are not allowed. Swing doors with locks are also generally not allowed as well as smoke curtains that ride in a fixed wall track or curtains that are not transparent. These all may not be allowed by the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).
Even though pretty much every state in the United States has adopted the IBC there are many differences from state to state especially regarding this particular code section for elevator smoke control (typically section 707 or 708). Be sure to check with the local AHJ, a fire protection engineer, or code consultant.
Feel free to contact me with questions about Smoke Guard as an option for you.
Still want to learn more about this topic? Check out this Buildipedia article.