Having a reliable and secure emergency line in your elevator car is not only of utmost importance for passenger peace of mind, but it is also required. Having an elevator telephone line that runs on a battery backup (like our Mobile Connect 2 Elevator Cellular Gateway) ensures that during a power outage your riders can use the call button or phone when car problems or emergencies arise.
I think we can all agree that safety and peace of mind go hand and hand when riding in an elevator. Elevator owners want their passengers to feel safe, and remain safe in the case of an emergency situation or equipment malfunction. Lift entrapment is a pretty common issue and can cause some people to panic, and not having a secure and reliable emergency elevator phone connection will only add to that anxiety and panic. Plain old telephone service (or POTS) is particularly susceptible to problems due to power outage and infrastructure damage. Cellular service, by contrast, does not rely on the same infrastructure and is not as susceptible to most common issues. As we stated, our Mobile Connect 2 cellular gateway for elevators has the added benefit of a battery backup, and POTS just can’t offer that as a service.
The safety requirements for elevator phone lines in the State of California are pretty simple, they rely heavily on the requirements of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), ASME(American Society of Mechanical Engineers), and IBC (International Building Code). For our purposes, we are going to focus on the ADA requirements as they pertain more to the emergency communication line.
ADA safety requirements for elevators
If your building has been constructed or renovated after July 1994 the entire building must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Standards updated 2010 ) requirements. An elevator communications system that does not meet these codes is not compliant and puts you at liability for fines, lawsuits, and license suspensions.
Note the top 2 are directly related to your elevator phone service.
• Two-way communication must be available in elevator cabs that deaf/blind users can use
• Emergency controls must be grouped at the bottom of the elevator control panel and have their centerlines no less than 35 inches above the finish floor
• Either automatic verbal announcement of stop or non-verbal audible signal of passed floors and stops must be used
• Call buttons must be a minimum of 0.75 inches in diameter
• Button heights must be centered 42 inches from the floor
• Braille must be below or next to floor numbers on the control panel
• Elevator must be easily accessible in a public space
• Doors must remain fully open for at least three seconds
• Door width must be at least 36 inches
• Car must be at least 51 inches deep and at least 68 inches wide
ADA Elevator Compliance Requirements
“4.10.14* Emergency Communications. If provided, emergency two-way communication systems between the elevator and a point outside the hoistway shall comply with ASME A17.1-1990. The highest operable part of a two-way communication system shall be a maximum of 48 in (1220 mm) from the floor of the car. It shall be identified by a raised symbol and lettering complying with 4.30 and located adjacent to the device. If the system uses a handset then the length of the cord from the panel to the handset shall be at least 29 in (735 mm). If the system is located in a closed compartment the compartment door hardware shall conform to 4.27, Controls, and Operating Mechanisms. The emergency intercommunication system shall not require voice communication.
A4.10.14 Emergency Communications. A device that requires no handset is easier to use by people who have difficulty reaching. Also, small handles on handset compartment doors are not usable by people who have difficulty grasping.
Ideally, emergency two-way communication systems should provide both voice and visual display intercommunication so that persons with hearing impairments and persons with vision impairments can receive information regarding the status of a rescue. A voice intercommunication system cannot be the only means of communication because it is not accessible to people with speech and hearing impairments. While a voice intercommunication system is not required, at a minimum, the system should provide both an audio and visual indication that a rescue is on the way.”
A4.31.3 Mounting Height. In localities where the dial-tone first system is in operation, calls can be placed at a coin telephone through the operator without inserting coins. The operator button is located at a height of 46 in (1170 mm) if the coin slot of the telephone is at 54 in (1370 mm). A generally available public telephone with a coin slot mounted lower on the equipment would allow universal installation of telephones at a height of 48 in (1220 mm) or less to all operable parts.
A4.31.9(1) A public text telephone (TTY) may be an integrated text telephone (TTY) pay telephone unit or a conventional portable text telephone (TTY) that is permanently affixed within, or adjacent to, the telephone enclosure. In order to be usable with a pay telephone, a text telephone (TTY) which is not a single integrated text telephone (TTY) pay telephone unit will require a shelf large enough (10 in (255 mm) wide by 10 in (255 mm) deep with a 6 in (150 mm) vertical clearance minimum) to accommodate the device, an electrical outlet, and a power cord.
A4.31.9(3) Movable or portable text telephones (TTYs) may be used to provide equivalent facilitation. A text telephone (TTY) should be readily available so that a person using it may access the text telephone (TTY) easily and conveniently. As currently designed, pocket-type text telephones (TTYs) for personal use do not accommodate a wide range of users. Such devices would not be considered substantially equivalent to conventional text telephones (TTYs). However, in the future, as technology develops this could change.
For a complete list of all the regulations and guidelines regarding public and private elevators please click here.
What makes Mobile Connect 2 the preferred device for emergency elevator phone lines?
Our Mobile Connect 2 cellular elevator gateway complies with all Federal, State, and Local laws regarding telephones in elevators (including all ADA, IBC, and ASME requirements) and is compatible with all existing phone equipment.
Cellular is also a great choice for elevator emergency lines due to the advancements in video communication. Concierge or emergency personnel can actually face to face with riders in their elevators. Another benefit over POTS. Did we mention that most major phone carriers will be phasing out POTS in the next few years? Get the jump, ditch copper, and start saving today.
Bottom line is, emergency situations are not the norm and these phones rarely get used; racking up pretty significant amounts in annual billing. No one likes spending money they don’t have to. That’s one of the reasons switching to a cellular network for your elevator is such a good idea, the savings can be as much as 60% per year!
Is a cellular network really reliable enough for an emergency elevator line?
Yes, the advancements in cellular networking technology have greatly increased over the past 10 years. With built-in redundancies and multiple cell towers servicing urban areas, coverage is not an issue. Plus, we install our Mobile Connect 2 where coverage is best in the building.
Elevator phone line tips for routine annual inspections
Annual inspections of your elevator are mandatory, they help ensure a safe and secure environment exists for your passengers. A handy tip to know is that If during your elevator inspection the inspector picks up the phone or pushes the call button and no one responds, it’s an automatic failure. Likewise, the elevator car and its location needs to be identifiable from the receiving phone line. The elevator phone must also be able to connect to 911.
For more information on general elevator safety requirements, annual inspections, fees, and new permits please see the contact info below.
CA Elevator Unit Headquarters
6980 Santa Teresa Blvd. Ste. 130
San Jose, CA 95119
fax (408) 362-2131
Elevator regulations are covered in the California Labor Code, Section 7300–7324.2 (as well as Title 8 section 6 of the Elevator Safety Code) and overseen by the Department of Industrial Relations. You can learn more about mandatory annual elevator inspections as well as obtain other pertinent information on elevator permits, fees, and certifications on their website.