Elevator Keys aka Fireman's Keys

I would like to inquire about acquiring an elevator key. I work on the top floor of a very busy building and from my understanding such a key would save me a great deal of time every day (If I get on the elevator and no one else is there, I can send the elevator straight to my floor, does that sound about right?). So first thing is first: can I legally use such a key? I can’t think of any particular laws I might be breaking. And though the property manager surely would not approve, what he doesn’t know can’t hurt him…would it be blatantly obvious what I’m doing to the security guards at their desks with elevator status-monitors?

So assuming all this is on the up-and-up, where can I get an elevator key?


p.s. would this key accomplish what I need: http://www.columbia-elevator.com/order/key.html ?

If there is nobody else there to push any other call/floor buttons, why wouldn’t the elevator go straight to your floor without a key?

No, what you’ve linked is a tool for effecting emergency ingress to the elevator cab or shaft. If you use that on the top floor when there’s no elevator at the floor, well, watch that first step.

What you illicitly want is a manual bypass key.

Just to clarify: A fireman’s key is a key that opens a firebox. A firebox is a box put on properties (usually more than two-families) that has the keys to all the apartments in the building. They might have what you are looking for in the box.

Only firemen can order firemen’s keys. In New Jersey you have to get a written statment from your local Fire Department to order a firemen’s box.

That’s the key to open the outer elevator-shaft doors that one would see on every floor, waiting for the elevator to arrive.
And to repeat what gotpasswords said, if you obtain one you really should look before you happen to dive head first down the shaft. In addition, possession plus the use of that key will likely get you into a heap of trouble with the authorities and building management.

What you want is the maintenance key that goes into the panel installed inside the elevator itself (where the floor buttons are located), and yes - if you can get the Management Property company to give you one with their permission, you can do all that you ask in your OP.

In most elevators I here in New York (except those that haven’t been modernized in decades), there is a slot for a key to switch from fire service to normal service.

Presumably when switched to fire, the elevator cab will respond only to the controls from the operator inside the cab. Also, I have been told that in fire service the close door button, which otherwise seems useless, will actually close the doors.

I presume this is the key that the OP is looking for.

You could also use wire from Michael J. Fox.s dental retainer. :smiley:

I used to ride elevators on top of the cab in order to clean interior elevator-shaft windows, dust and/or replace light bulbs, etc. (Think the Hyatt in Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio).

I would grab an elevator with the maintenance key, take it to a certain floor, then take another elevator one floor up.
I used the fireman key to open the outer doors on the shaft I was working on, and hopped on top the the cab.

There’s a control unit there, when activated, allows one to manually control the elevator using three switches - UP/DOWN/STOP.

Fun times.

What you’re referencing is actually called a Knox Box in most municipalities. It is up to the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiciton-typically Fire Marshal or Commissioner) what keys go in the box. FD and PD have access keys, and the box may or may not have a tamper switch which indicates when the outer door is opened via connection to an alarm or access control system.

ok so it sounds like Fireman’s keys are a different beast entirely…but what I’m looking for seems to be a 1 key fits all solution that takes over the elevator. I’ve been in a ton of buildings lately and they appear to have the same circular key-holes in the elevator.

ticker: Although I can only use the key when there is no one else in the elevator on the ground floor, there would usually be tons of people on various floors in between my top floor office and the ground. There is one company in particular that has 5 or 6 floors in my building, and so their employees are CONSTANTLY going up and down to move around their office.

What’s worked for me in the past- get in the elevator, press your floor button, and as the elevator is moving, hold down the ‘close door’ key. At least for the elevator I was in, this made it bypass the floors where the elevator was called and head directly to my floor. (or made it seem to do so. I don’t know why that would work, but it’s worth a try.)

I wouldn’t do that these days, because someone could actually need to get somewhere, but I did do it during DragonCon many years ago. There were tons of kids hopping on the elevator to go down one floor, or to just ride around for a while, or running down the stairs pushing the call button on every floor. I didn’t feel so bad about it at the time, as my hotel room was on the something-teenth floor and stopping at every floor in between was a real pain.

I’m amazed we got 11 posts without someone noting how utterly selfish this request is. xiix wants to commandeer an elevator at his whim, while other passengers have to wait [their fair turn.]

Having worked with many property managers, I can tell you they’d likely be livid. Perhaps you can work on special locks for the men’s room next, or your own parking garage. :frowning:

There are three different types of firefighter’s keys we’re talking about here.

The first is a key to a Knox Box, which danceswithcats already discussed.

The second is the drop key (the rod with a dangly-bit at the end) that unlocks the exterior door lock mechanism at each individual floor. Very dangerous in the wrong hands, and illegal to use in Massachusetts (no elevators in Mass. have the hole to use a drop key).

The third type is a “firefighter’s service” key. In Mass, we call this a “3502 key,” based on the regulation in the state building code that requires it. This key gets inserted into a keyed switch at the “level of exit discharge,” usually the ground floor. This recalls all elevators in the building to that floor, opens their doors, and locks them there. It prevents Joe Public from using the elevator during a fire. Once the elevators are recalled, the same key can be inserted into a keyed switch inside an elevator car, overriding the recall and allowing the firefighters to use the elevator. The door open and door close buttons go on manual (the door close always works in fire service operation), and the elevator doesn’t react to floor call buttons, only the buttons inside the elevator.

Good luck getting one of those keys, you need to have some affiliation to your local fire service. And we don’t give those things out.

As for legality, I’m sure some law enforcement type could chime in, but I’d suggest that you could somehow be charged with a false fire alarm, but I can’t vouch for that.

the raindog: ** This is GQ, I don’t feel your moral judgements are warranted here.
If I understand what you’re saying correctly, the 3502 key needs to be inserted on the ground floor before it can be used inside the elevator to commandeer it?

What about the key I linked to in my OP? What does this key do:


As was stated above, that key is inserted into the outer elevator door in order to open it. I have one that I’ve used to open the elevator door to allow people stuck in an elevator to get out. I also have one of the keys that allow me to override the normal evelvator operations and take the elevator anywhere I’d like. I never use it unless I have a legitimate reason and never use it just for my convenience.

aha! So what I’m asking for is totally possible, I just have to keep looking past the Columbia key to find what I need.


I doubt they sell them that way. I’m an employee that was given the key for the elevator in the building in order to perform my job.

I’ve never tried to operate an elevator in fire service mode without having it first engaged from the lobby. I don’t know if it would work from the car key switch without the fire servce mode being activated from the lobby first.

After some searching through the NFPA Life Safety Code (our fire service document that tells us what to look for in means-of-egress and firesafe design), it seems that ASME A17 is the code to find out how exactly the fire service mode works in an elevator. I don’t have A17, nor do I feel much like dropping $850 to purchase it. You’re more than welcome to: ASME A17

I don’t know if what you want to do is possible, but I do think it’ll be dangerous if you do it. Either from the elevator doing something you don’t want it to, or from the building’s manager pommeling you when he catches you. Either way, I suggest not trying it.

What you are trying to do poses several problems. First, if you get a “fireman’s key” the only thing you will be able to do is open the outer door to the shaft, depending on the type of elevator this can do one of several things, first a alarm could be activated in the elevator itself, or the desk. The elevator could automatically return to the main floor, or it could lock in position where ever it may be requiring a manual override key to make it operational again, if you where to activate this alarm most likely the fd will be notified and then yes you are liable, so if i were you i would just wait for the elevator to come to your floor.

The reason he’s calling it the “fireman’s key” is because on most elevators the keyhole he’s talking about (usually for a round key) says “Fire” on/above it.

Back in my college dorms we had elevators with such keyholes that were very easy to pick with a standard circular key - you just stuck it in, fidgeted a little bit, and easily turned it to fire/manual and could then bypass all the other floors. Since our dorm was on the second-highest floor, it was quite handy though I’m sure it pissed off a lot of people. They were noisy and annoying with all their yelling and vomiting, so I never felt too bad about it. Eventually they caught on (people couldn’t keep their damn mouths shut) and they replaced the panel with one that required a new, fancier key so we couldn’t do it anymore. But it was nice while it lasted. I can’t tell you where to buy one (no clue) but it’s worth a shot trying to pick it - may work if it’s an older elevator. I don’t remember what brand elevator these were, it was a long time ago.