RTM Engineering Consultants (RTM) recently published the “Top MEP Considerations When Designing for Elevator Systems.” The whitepaper addresses the primary mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection considerations related to designing safe and efficient elevator systems for multi-story buildings.
With the growing popularity of projects being built upward rather than sprawling out, a trend is on the rise in urban areas as this becomes a more efficient use of space and resources when land is limited. Designing multi-story buildings requires architectural teams to carefully plan elevator systems that meet current safety standards, as well as address the unique needs of the space.
Because modern buildings are designed with floor plates that are rated to prevent movement of smoke and growth of a fire, care must be taken with shafts that penetrate multiple floor levels. Elevator shafts are often susceptible to collecting smoke from a fire, or transferring smoke from floor to floor.
Many are steering away from hoistway ventilation because it oftentimes worsens smoke control problems through stack effect, which draws smoky air from the fire floor through the shaft. A smoke control alternative is hoistway pressurization, which activates when a building’s fire alarm sounds and positively pressurizes the hoistway and pushes air outward through any opening. This prevents smoke infiltration.
Modernization also has changed fire safety for elevator system designs and has provided solutions to life-threatening problems present in older systems. One of which is elevator recall, which is a control system that prevents occupants from unwittingly riding an elevator to a floor with a fire.
While earlier versions of fire protection codes for elevator systems required sprinklers in all hoistways, elevator pits and machine rooms, newer code requirements are more focused on fire-resistant and non-flammable construction. RTM finds that newer codes also discourage sprinklers in elevators to make it easier when evacuating a building and/or for fire department operations during a fire.