Elevator Fire Service: Everything You Need to Know

A Guide to Elevator Fire Service

An Elevator Fire Service Guide for monthly test instructions, keys (FEO k1 Key), phase 1 and 2 recall testing, monthly test log and more.

During a fire, an elevator is a lifeline for people living on the upper floors. So, as a building owner or manager it’s imperative, and the law, that you test your elevator fire service monthly.  Understanding fire service code will help you pass your next elevator inspection. 

​If you’ve never done this, or you want to know how elevator fire service works, then keep reading to learn about what your elevator does during a fire, and how you can test your elevator’s fire service.

What is Elevator Fire Service?

Elevator fire service is an automatic mode an elevator goes into when smoke or heat sensors are triggered. The sensors link to the elevator’s control panel. When the sensors detect heat or smoke, they automatically put the elevator into fire service mode.

This mode sends the elevator to a recall floor, allowing any passengers to get out. Then it stops operations, so arriving emergency personnel has priority access to it.

Elevator fire service occurs in two phases, appropriately called Phase 1 and Phase 2.

Are Fire Service Tests Included In My Elevator Service Contract?

Although monthly fire service testing is required by elevator code (see below), it’s not necessary to be part of your elevator service contract.  Depending on the type of elevator contract you choose, it may be included.  Well informed buildings may exclude the monthly fire service testing as a way to save money on elevator service contract costs. 

Who Can Perform the Fire Service Test?

Elevator mechanics can do the tests as part of maintenance; however, this additional time will increase the cost of your elevator maintenance contract.  Building staff, engineers, and owners can perform the test and log the results.  Follow the guide (below) to complete the test correctly. 

What is Phase 1 Elevator Fire Service Recall?

Phase 1 of elevator fire service is the first reaction of the elevator to the sensors. As explained before, sensors in the building send a signal to the elevator that heat or smoke has been detected. The elevator will pause with the doors open for a few seconds at whatever floor it’s on.

The doors will close and it will slowly begin nudging down to let people on the elevator know it is being moved down to the recall floor. If the recall floor is where the sensors were activated (where the fire is), it will move to an alternate floor.  

Once at the floor, it will stop and open the doors. The elevator will still operate, but no longer respond to calls for service from any other floor.

It will remain in this position until it’s returned to normal service after all the smoke and heat alarms have been reset.

What is Phase 2 Elevator Fire Service Recall?

Phase 2 is how the elevators are operated by rescue personnel. Depending on the age of the elevator there are two ways Phase 2 can occur.

In newer elevators, the fire department and other rescue personnel will have a universal firefighter elevator key. This key is used to operate the elevator manually, it deactivates the infrared sensors on the door and the firefighter has complete control.

This allows firefighters to move the elevator up and down to each floor, making their response more rapid and helping people get out of the building. Phase 2 is activated from a key switch located on the control panel inside the elevator.

Upon arrival at the fire, a firefighter will cancel any car calls by pushing the call cancel button. The firefighters enter the elevator, and using their fire department elevator key, will push the close door button. The closed door button must be pushed until the doors close all the way. They can now move the elevator to wherever they want to go.

Once at the desired floor, the door will remain closed until the firefighter pushes the open door button. The firefighter must hold it down until the doors open all the way.

Elevator Fire Service Key and Box

Elevator Fire Service Key

There are code requirements for elevator fire service keys and location. Primarily, the requirements are the key is universal and it’s located near the elevator.

Most elevators will accept the standard FEO K1 key. If an elevator does not accept the key, it must be retrofitted. If a retrofit is not possible, then an elevator fire service key box must be attached to a wall near the elevator on the primary recall floor.

Inside the box should be the elevator fire service key. There should not be anything else in the box.

On the outside of the box, or on a wall next to the box, should be the label “Fire Department Use Only-Elevator Keys.”

Are Fire Service Tests Required Monthly?

Your elevator fire service is required to be tested monthly.  After every successful completion of the test, you are required to  fill out an elevator fire service test log. This log documents the test and it should be kept in the same building as the elevator.  It should not be kept in the box that holds the elevator fire service keys. Below is the elevator fire service code:

  • ASME Firefighters’ Emergency Operation. All elevators provided with firefighters’ emergency operation shall be subjected monthly to Phase I recall by use of the key switch, and a minimum of one-floor operation on Phase II, except in jurisdictions enforcing the NBCC.  Deficiencies shall be corrected. A record of findings shall be available to elevator personnel and the authority having jurisdiction.

Monthly Elevator Fire Service Test Log

We have a free log available for your jurisdiction.  Just enter your zip code and download our free monthly fire service test log. ​  

Click Here to Download Log

Monthly Elevator Fire Service Test Procedure

Here’s the step by step instruction guide to perform the monthly test. 

How to Test Phase I 

1. Insert your key into the fire service recall key switch, this is usually located on the main lobby floor.

2. Turn the key to the  “ON” position. The elevator will come down to the same floor as the fire service key switch, and the person testing.  The doors will open. 

​If the elevator operates as described above, the testing for Phase 1 Recall is complete.  

How to Test Phase II

Step 1.  Enter the elevator.  Insert the fire service key into the fire service key switch located inside the elevator on the main car operating panel (COP).

Step 2.  Turn to the “HOLD” position on the key switch and then push a floor button (any floor that you’re not on). The button will NOT light up.

Step 3.  Turn to the “ON” position. Push an alternate a floor button (any floor that you’re not on). The button will now light up.

Step 4.  Push and continue to hold the “DOOR CLOSE” button. If your elevator has an electronic safety edge (the device the opens the doors when something breaks the beam), move an object (or your arm) in the doorway to break the sensors. The doors should normally open, but in fire service mode they should now continue to close.  These should be disabled in case of smoke.

Step 5.  While the doors continue to close on the object, release the “DOOR CLOSE” button. The doors should stop closing and immediately start to open.

Step 6.  While the doors are moving open, push and continue to hold the “DOOR CLOSE” button.  Now the doors will close.

Step 7.  Hold the “DOOR CLOSE” button until the doors are completely closed. Release the “DOOR CLOSE” button and the doors will remain in the closed position. 

Step 8.  Perform steps 5 through 7 with the “DOOR OPEN” button.

Step 9.  Select and push a floor button on an upper floor, and while the elevator starts to move, quickly push the “CALL CANCEL” button.  The light on the floor button should turn off and the elevator should stop at the current floor or the next floor. 

Step 10.  Switch the fire service key to  “OFF”. If the elevator doors were open, they should close and then the elevator will travel to the main lobby floor (same floor as the Phase 1 Key Switch).  With an older elevator, you may need to press the floor button. 

Step 11.  At the main landing level, press and hold  “DOOR OPEN” until the doors are completely open.  Turn the key “OFF”. 

If the elevator operates as described above, the testing for Phase 2 Recall is complete.  

How to Reset an Elevator After a Fire Service Alarm?

Step 1.  Locate the Phase 1 Key Switch in the hallway.  With the fire service key, turn it “RESET” or “BYPASS” and hold it for about two to three seconds.
Step 2.  Turn the key back to the “OFF” position. The elevators are now reset for normal use.

Your Local Elevator Code

Disclaimer:This guide was built to improve the safety of the riding public.  However, your local jurisdiction may have different codes and requirements.  The information contained in this guide may not apply to you.   Contact your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to confirm the elevator codes in your area.

You can also check with us here.

Additional Help

If you have any questions or concerns about your elevator or your compliance with elevator fire service in your location, we encourage you to contact us.

ElevatorLab helps property owners and managers obtain the best service and maintenance possible in their area. Additionally, we advise building owners on their elevator installation and service contracts.  Small details in an elevator contract can help you save money.   

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