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Smoke Control Systems for Elevator Fire Evacuation



J H. Klote, G. T. Tamura


Some people cannot use stairwells because of physical disabilities, and for these people fire evacuation is a serious problem. A potential solution to this problem is the use of elevators for fire evacuation. A joint project of the U. S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRCC) was formed to evaluate the feasibility of using elevators for the evacuation of the handicapped during a fire. This project consisted of conceptual studies, full scale fire experiments, and theoretical analysis. This paper summarizes the findings of the joint project that are relevant to the design of smoke control systems for elevators. A method of dealing with elevator piston effect is discussed. All other things being equal, piston effect is considerably greater for single car hoistways than for multiple car hoistways. Different approaches to deal with the pressure fluctuations due to opening and closing of building doors are presented. A method of design analysis is presented with an example analysis. Results indicate that many types of elevator smoke control systems can be designed to provide acceptable levels of pressurization even under severe conditions of doors opening and closing.
Proceedings Title
Council of American Building Officials and National Fire Protection Association
Conference Dates
February 19-20, 1991
Conference Location
Baltimore, MD
Conference Title
Elevators and Fire


elevators (lifts), smoke control, evacuation, handicapped, piston effect, doors, pressure differental, computers


Klote, J. and Tamura, G. (1991), Smoke Control Systems for Elevator Fire Evacuation, Council of American Building Officials and National Fire Protection Association, Baltimore, MD, [online], (Accessed April 15, 2024)
Created February 19, 1991, Updated February 19, 2017