Elevator Hoistway and Machine Room Ventilation

The MA Board of Elevator Regulations has removed the longstanding amendment to ASME A17.1: Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators requiring a means of elevator ventilation to the outer air from enclosed elevator hoistways and machine rooms. Previously, 524 CMR amended ASME Section 2.1.4 and required natural or mechanical ventilation for all enclosed hoistways and machine rooms.

The currently adopted version of 524 CMR: Board of Elevator Regulations is based on the 2013 edition of ASME A17.1 and came into effect on December 1, 2018. The current edition of 524 CMR does not amend Section 2.1.4: Control of Smoke and Hot Gases and applies the base code language which states that “when required by the building code, the hoistway shall be provided with means to prevent the accumulation of smoke and hot gases”.

The Ninth Edition of the Massachusetts Building Code (780 CMR) is currently enforced and based on the 2015 International Building Code (IBC). Chapter 30 of 780 CMR addresses elevators and conveying equipment and no longer contains requirements for direct ventilation of hoistways and machine rooms (780 CMR 3002 & 3005). With this code change, the following requirements still apply:

  1. Elevator machine rooms, machinery spaces that contain the driving machine, and control rooms or spaces that contain the operation or motion controller for elevator operation are required to be provided with an independent ventilation or air conditioning system to protect against the overheating of the electrical equipment. The system is required to be capable of maintaining temperatures within the range established for the elevator equipment (780 CMR 3005.2). Where standby power is connected to elevators, the machine room ventilation or air conditioning is required to be connected to the standby power source (780 CMR 3003.1.4).
  2. Elevators that connect more than 3 stories are required to be provided with hoistway opening protection (i.e. enclosed lobbies or hoistway pressurization) where any of the following conditions apply (780 CMR 3006.2):
    1. The building is not sprinkler protected in accordance with NFPA 13 or NFPA 13R;
    2. The building contains a Group I-1 Condition 2, Group I-2, or Group I-3 occupancy;
    3. The building is a high rise and the elevator hoistway is more than 75 feet in height measured from the lowest floor to the highest floor served by the hoistway.

Refer to 780 CMR 3006.2 for a list of exceptions.

The permit application date used for the purposes of determining the applicable version of 524 CMR is the date of installation, relocation, or alteration of elevator equipment (524 CMR 1.08(10)). This is the date indicated on the elevator permit application, not the building permit application.

Note that existing elevator hoistways and machine room ventilation must be maintained in accordance with the requirements in effect at the time of installation unless a permit is otherwise filed and approved by the elevator inspector.