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Alternatives to Enclosed Elevator Lobbies: Part 2

Thursday May 29, 2014

According to FEMA, asphyxiation from smoke is the leading cause of fire death, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio. Due to those kinds of realities, building must be designed to protect its occupants from both fire and smoke.

Elevators in multi-story building tend to present the largest challenge as they can act as chimneys in the case of a fire. Because of this, architects and contractors have long relied on an enclosed elevator lobby to separate the elevator shaft from the rest of the building. However, enclosed elevator shafts take up quite a large footprint of each floor and therefore can be quite costly.

Luckily, modern technology is now providing some alternatives to the enclosed elevator lobby. In part two, of this subject we will dive into another option to the standard enclosed elevator lobby: the smoke-rated door.

If designing an enclosed elevator lobby on each floor is out of the question for one reason or another, an additional gasketed swing door that is smoke-rated can be installed. This door may be mounted directly at the opening to the elevator and held open with magnets. In order to satisfy code requirements, the additional door needs to:

  • Carry an “S rating” (smoke rating)
  • Be equipped with a closer to pull the door closed when the magnetic hold releases
  • Have the ability to open from the elevator side without the need for special tools or knowledge
  • Satisfy air leakage requirement in accordance with UL 1784

The gasketed swing door releases in the instance of a fire and closes over the elevator opening. The gasketing along the door jamb then fills in the space between the door and door frame. This creates a seal that blocks smoke from escaped onto the floor

This option is definitely more space friendly than an enclosed elevator lobby. However, it comes with its own challenges. Swing door of often easily tampered with in that tenant can wedge them open or place furniture in front of them without understanding the door’s role in fire and smoke safety. Without the ability to seal tightly, the swing door becomes a useless smoke barrier. In addition, the swing doors can impede firefighter access to areas of the building and create a barrier between tenants and firefighters

If you are looking for an alternative to an enclosed elevator lobby, Smoke Guard has a variety of options to ensure fire and smoke safety without compromising design. Contact us today for more information and specifications. 


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