Emergency Communications System Requirements for Elevators

elevator telephone ADAAn elevator phone in a building that was constructed or renovated after July 1994 must comply with all Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Elevators may also need to comply with state, ASME, and IBC codes. An elevator communications system that does not meet these codes is not compliant.

Each elevator does not need to have its own dedicated phone line to be code-compliant. Line sharing can be effective and can reduce costs. If set up properly, the phones should party line together so that each elevator cab and the monitoring station can communicate. When each phone is activated, it should send a signal that identifies it so that an operator can locate the caller and call back into the elevator if necessary, as required by the ADA.

In order to test your elevators and make sure they are compliant, activate at least two telephones at or around the same time. Each phone should be able to carry on a two-way conversation with an emergency operator. The phones fail the test if only one or none of the calls goes through, one call connects but is disconnected when the second call is placed, the phones do not dial out, or the calls are completed but the parties are unable to hear each other.

The ADA requires that telephones in elevators be accessible to people with disabilities. People who are speech- or hearing-impaired may not be able to tell an operator their location. Telephones should therefore be equipped with voice location message recording or caller ID. The operator should be able to identify the caller’s location and cab number, as required by the ASME. If the operator cannot do so, the communications system fails the test.

Emergency responders should be able to call directly back to an elevator without an “intentional delay.” Routing through a switchboard or auto-attendant is not an option. Emergency responder phones are usually located at a guard station on the main egress level or in a fire control room. If the emergency responder phone cannot call back the elevator phone directly, the test is failed.


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