I often get asked about the different types of elevators, what makes them different, when they are needed/required, and how they affect the building design as a whole. According to International Building Code (IBC), the following elevator types are common:
- Passenger Elevator
- Accessible Means of Egress Elevator
- Fire Service Access Elevator
- Occupant Evacuation Elevator
About Each Elevator Type:
An elevator with no special features. It goes into recall when smoke is detected in the lobby or the elevator shaft. It can be used as part of an accessible means of egress when required and the building has sprinklers as well as a horizontal exit. Passenger elevators can be used at all heights.
Accessible Means of Egress Elevator
An Accessible Means of Egress Elevator is required in buildings with 4+ floors (above OR below grade) that don’t have sprinklers and a horizontal exit. This elevator is a passenger elevator that remains operational during fire control by fire services. It must be accessed from an Area of Refuge (AOR). The AOR requires two way communication, posted instructions, an entrance sized to fit wheelchairs, signage, and a smoke-proof room (with smoke barrier walls, floor + ceiling, and smoke-rated doors).
Fire Service Access Elevator
Two Fire Service Access Elevators are required in buildings over 120 feet tall. They require a lobby that is no less than 150 sq. ft., at least 8 ft. in width with direct access to exit stairs, a stand pipe, signage, a waterproof hoistway, an illuminated shaft, NO shunt trip, 1 hour fire+smoke-rated lobby walls, hose stream-rated, 3/4 hour fire-rated & smoke-proof lobby door, and signage.
Occupant Evacuation Elevator
Occupant Evacuation Elevators are optional in lieu of a 3rd set of exit stairs required on buildings 420 ft. high or higher. They require a lobby sized to accommodate 25% of occupant load with direct access to exit stairs, 2 way communication, elevator under fire command control, 1 hour fire+smoke-rated lobby walls, 3/4 hour auto-closing fire-rated door, hose stream, UL 1784 smoke rated with a vision panel, and signage. If chosen, these features are required for ALL elevators, two of which must also be fire service elevators.
When can a smoke curtain be used instead of a lobby?
A Smoke Guard smoke curtain can be used instead of a lobby on Passenger Elevators.
Accessible Means of Egress Elevators and Occupant Evacuation Elevators are optional for building designers and can’t use a smoke curtain. Fire Service Access Elevators are only required on buildings above 120 ft. and only two of the elevators need to be Fire Service Access Elevators. All other elevators may be Passenger Elevators and therefore may use a Smoke Guard smoke curtain.
See the Infographic
We created the infographic below to help illustrate the different types of elevators and when they are needed. Feel free to share!