Fireman's switch in elevator

Inside many elevators (including the one in the building I am in), there is a key-operated “Fireman’s switch”. How is that any different from the switch that puts it on “Service” (i.e. so it won’t respond to outside button pushes)? Note that I am referring to one on the inside of the elevator; I can envision ones on the outside probably do.

If I’m reading/paraphrasing this correctly. During a fire, the elevator will stop working. The fire service switch allows the firefighters to work it manually from the inside.

My understanding (which comes from talking to an elevator service dude I had to coordinate some card access hardware with) is that fire code requires that in the event of a fire alarm the elevator car is to travel to the main floor and open the doors, and then not respond to any commands. Unless the fire alarm originates on the main floor, in which case it is to go to the basement. However, the fire key will allow this programming to be overridden so that the FD can utilize the elevator if they see fit to do so.

From Joey P’s link:

I was wondering about this. Is there one key per manufacturer, one key per city (or fire response district), or one key that covers the entire country? I can’t imagine firefighters have a big ring with one key for each elevator in the city.

I would guess there’s either one key per city (or fire district, however it’s setup) or one key, period. If you ever walk into a restaurant and right by the front door you see a small lock box, usually set right into the brickwork, that’s for the firefighters. When you order it you tell them what city you are in so they can put the correct lock on it according to what key your local firefighters have. I would assume the elevators work in more or less the same way.

FTR, after installing that box, you would contact your local FD and find out what they want inside it. At the least it would contain the key to the exterior entries. I would imagine, the FD might want keys to locked offices, closets and utility rooms as well. The idea being that it saves a lot of time (and damage) since the FD won’t have to break down doors or windows to find or put out a fire or do a search and rescue if they have access to the keys.

This is going to be long but the simple part is the key lobby puts the elevator in phase I fire recall. The key inside the elevator puts the elevator in Phase II fire recall. The key is different by manufacturer, and time made. The fire department normally does not carry keys. But inside the fire department lock box on the outside of the building should be keys to the building and the elevator recall keys.
Now for a description of how the system works.
Phase I
If a smoke detector in a elevator lobby goes into alarm or the elevator fire recall key is turned the elevators will all recall to the primary floor. That is the ground floor, the floor with the star next to the call buttons. The doors will open and stay open and no one can use the elevators without a key. If a smoke detector in the primary floor lobby goes into alarm the elevators will recall to the secondary floor. Normally garage or 2nd floor. All floor call buttons are cut out of the system. The door safety edges are bypassed. Any security system should, I say should, be bypassed.

Phase II
To put the elevator in phase II the elevator recall key inside the car is turned.
To use the elevator one floor call button has to be pushed. The door close button has to be pushed and held until the doors are completely closed. If released early the doors will reopen. After the car reaches the called floor it stops, the door do not open. To open the doors the door open button has to be pushed and held, if released before it is fully open the doors will reclose. If the fire department wants to send the elevator down to the lobby all they have to do as they get out is take the elevator out of phase II. It will recall.

It is bad if the fireman gets to the floor opens the door and just before they get fully open steps out of the elevator. The doors close and that elevator is out of use until a mechanic can come out.

Does this answer the question for you? any questions?

Normally you order the lock box from the fire department. They want master keys, elevator keys, and any security pass cards necessary. In a emergency if you do not leave them keys they use their universal master key. After you get the lock box you call the FD to be sure where they want it. You mount it box. Then recall the FD so they can lock the box after you put the keys in it.

There should be a lock box outside every major building.

I knew a guy who described a fire department’s response to a (minor) fire in the hotel at which he was staying: they tried to bring a hose through a revolving door, and then onto an elevator.

This part is (heh) key. In regular manual operation, the doors open when the elevator reaches the floor. In fire service, the doors stay shut, giving the firefighters a chance to check for heat/flames/smoke. If they decide that floor’s too dangerous to be on, they can return to the lobby or go to a different floor.

In Massachusetts at least, there is one key that is supposed to work for every elevator in the state, we refer to it as a “3502 key.” I’m not sure if that same cut of key works in other states, YMMV.

I work for a fire alarm company, and part of my job is to interface with the elevator controls to program the response so well described by our friend Snnipe 70E in post #7

I have a ring with about a dozen elevator control keys. There are different keys for each of the elevator equipment manufacturing companies.

Given the info about how a fire alarm recalls elevators to the main floor automatically, here’s something I’m curious about: is the safety mantra “never use the elevators in a fire” because they might be dangerous to use or because you’ll be standing there in the elevator lobby waiting for an elevator that isn’t going to come?

I was always under the impression that it’s because (depending on the location of the fire) the elevator could fail with you on it.

I recall reading that a fire could burn through the call buttons in a way that the elevator would interpret as a call; in other words, the elevator would go to the floor where the fire is. I have no idea whether there’s any truth to that.

electronic call buttons might be triggered by the fire, stop and open on the fire floor.

There are several reasons.
The elevator may stop on a fire floor.
The elevator could fail leaving stuck in it deverting personal to get you out.
If the outer doors should fail on the fire floor and the car is above the fire smoke and or fire could travel up the shaft.
And you need to leave the building as fast as possible.

And you believed some guy?

That’s ridiculous – every hotel I have ever stayed at had boxes built into the hallway on every floor, with a fire hose already connected inside them.

Although I do not bellieve the guys story.
In most buildings and hotels those fire hoses are being removed and the valves capped off. In case of fire the fire department wants guest and employees to leave the building. With hose cabinets there is always the posibability someone who should leave will grab a hose and try to fight the fire.

But if a hotel was on fire the fire department will bring hoses in through the doors up the elevators to below the fire. then go up the stairs to the fire floor. Where they will unroll the hoses and connect them to the stand pipes in the stairs and use good hoses to fight the fire.

This seems to be happening nationally. Hose cabinets are being emptied and capped off - the explanation I got from a firefighter was that nobody ever inspected the hoses, so they gave a false sense of security.

Yeah, for me that (along with fixing my transmission and performing appendectomies) falls in the category of “things to leave to the professionals." I prefer to be called smart, not cowardly; I am obviously a descendant of the caveman that ran away from the saber-toothed tiger and not the one that decided to (try and) fight it off.