Elevator Rescue Part 1

By Brian Butler

Elevator calls are common jobs for fire departments with numerous residential mid-rise, high-rise, and commercial buildings. Most of them are simple passenger removals, and will not require a technical rescue. Other incidents involve medical emergencies, extrications involving pin or crush injuries, or a recovery. Most elevator incidents are non-emergency "stuck in the box" calls where passengers are stranded in a stalled elevator as a result of equipment failure, power failure or human error. This usually requires the main power to the stalled elevator to be shut down and a safe method of removal determined by an experienced company officer. 

New or inexperienced firefighters who are not trained on elevators shouldn't be experimenting during a passenger removal. In addition to serious repercussions from a liability standpoint, careless decisions can have deadly consequences. In most departments, elevator assignments are left to the more experienced members of the Truck, Squad, or Rescue companies. Smaller departments may rely on an elevator technician. 

REMEMBER:  All elevators are NOT the same and working around hoistways and mechanical rooms can be extremely dangerous. Elevators (and escalators) are responsible for an average of 30 fatalities and 18,000 injuries per year caused by firescrush and pin injuries, loss of limbs, panic attacks, elevator surfing, falls down the hoistway, and decapitation

All firemen should have some basic knowledge of elevators so they can be relied upon to perform simple tasks, even if only assigned to a support role. It's also important to determine what additional resources are needed. Do not hesitate to call the rescue or squad company, building maintenance, or an elevator mechanic for assistance. Firemen are not there to repair malfunctioning elevators, hoistway doors, or touch the controllers in the machine room. Leave that to the elevator technicians.

Firefighters SHOULD be familiar with the following:

*Properly securing the mainline power to the stalled elevator.

*Safety procedures and the dangers of elevators, hoistways and EMR's.

*Identifying the different types of elevators, EMR locations, and hoistway door keys.

*The elevator control position, and phase 1-2 firefighter recall.

*The proper tools to carry, proper resources to notify, and different methods of passenger removal.

*Basic anatomy of elevators, hoistways, and machine rooms. 

Conducting building surveys/fire preplans combined with hands on training will make firemen more proficient with elevators.

REMEMBER: ​The fire department is called because there is something WRONG with the elevator. We know 90% of these calls are simple, but don't let complacency make you the liable one when Murphy's Law strikes.

Always secure the MAIN power to the elevator before passenger removal or during any extrication involving a pin or crush injury. 

NEVER take an elevator directly to the reported fire floor. Ignoring these two simple tasks can have fatal consequences.  


*Elevator Keys: Double Drop, Single Drop, 'T' Lunar, Double Barrel.

*Lockout/Tagout Kit

*Attic/Scissor Ladders: (2 if doing car top removal)

*Rescue Rope, Carabineers, Harness.

*Tools: Irons, Hydraulic Ram, Door Chocks, 6' or 8' Pike Pole/Jarclose Tool, Flashlight.

Escutcheon- Keyhole

This is the hole where you insert the hoistway key. Currently, ASME 17.1 requires key access holes are on every floor the elevator serves (1997). Older elevators may only have them present at the bottom and top floor, or every other floor. CA does not permit access holes for hoistway keys.

Hoistway Door Keys

Hoistway door keys are used to open the hoistway door. The most commonly used keys are the drop key, double drop, lunar, 'T' key and barrel. Drop keys will turn side to side while the lunar key (half-moon shape) will require a lifting motion.


Elevator Machine Room (EMR)

The EMR houses the mainline disconnect, controllers, and the driving machine. The EMR has to be accessed to secure the power to the elevator. During preplans, make sure the shutoffs are properly labeled (A,B, 1,2) and the key to the door is working properly. Be aware of high voltage and moving machinery in the EMR.

High Voltage

Be careful with hand tools in the EMR, especially near the electrical cabinets. Use the back of your hand when using the knife switch to secure the power. 


Do not mess with the controllers. The elevator mechanics/servicemen should be the only ones touching them.

Mainline Disconnect

When securing the power, make sure you are securing the main power to the car,  and not the power to the lights, fan, etc.. 


The space enclosed by fireproof walls and hoistway doors in which the elevator travels, extending from the pit floor to the roof. (Hatch, Shaft)

(Ropes) Cables

Suspension Ropes are suspension means for car and counterweight, which are steel wire ropes. They are used on traction type elevators, usually attached to the crosshead and extending up into the machine room looping over the sheave on the motor and then down to the counter weights. Hoisting cables are generally 3 to 6 in number 


 DO NOT STEP on the hoistway ventilation grates in the EMR! Falling through these will send a fireman down the hoistway. Some of these grates are removed and covered with cardboard, plywood, especially in public housing.


Display Panel

Contains car operating controls such as call register (floor) pushbuttons, door open and close, alarm, emergency stop, and any other buttons or keyswitches that may be required for operation. Independent service, phase 2 fire recall, blinking helmet (shunt trip) stop-run key switch.

Buffer Springs

Large diameter springs that are permanently placed in a traction elevator pit for the purpose of stopping a descending car or counterweight beyond its normal limit of travel. (Spring Buffer, Oil Buffer)

Toe Guard

This guard protects the passengers from accidentally sticking their foot under the platform if it is not level with the landing. These were required after kids were getting their legs stuck between the elevator door and landing with swing doors in housing projects. 

Firemen Service Phase 1-2 Recall

Firemen Service

This is a fire safety feature in some elevators allowing firemen to recall the elevator to the lobby and take control of its use. A fireman is assigned to the elevator control position for elevators with this service.  

Phase 1: A mode of operation activated by a smoke detector located in an elevator lobby, elevator machine room, elevator hoistway or by a keyed recall switch. This activation returns all cars to the main egress lobby or an alternated designated landing, opens the elevator doors and removes the cars from service. If the car is on independent service, the elevator will revert to Phase 1 recall in about 60 seconds. An emergency responder may want to manually activate an elevator recall because of an emergency situation that has not been detected by an automatically alarm system. 

A firefighter or maintenance representative may want to override an automatically initiated recall because an alarm area has been found to be safe and the automatic system has not yet been reset or has malfunctioned. The keyed recall switch has an 'On', 'Off' and sometimes a 'bypass' position. The key is removable in the 'On' and 'Off' positions only. On position puts elevators into phase 1 recall and off puts elevator back into normal service.  

Phase 2: A mode of operation activated by the firefighters independent service key switch inside the elevator. This can only be activated when a phase 1 recall of the elevators is in effect and with the elevator at the lobby or designated floor with the doors open. When activated, the responder assumes manual control of an individual elevator car. The firemen can take the car to any floor it serves. When the car arrives at the floor, the doors do not open automatically, they open only with continuous pressure on the door open button. If the button is released during opening, the doors will stop opening and reclose. This feature is meant to protect firefighters from opening the doors into a fire situation. Once the doors have been fully opened the elevator will stay in place with the doors open and they will remain open until a command is given to close them by continuously holding the door close button. The elevator will then remain in place with the doors closed until a floor button is pressed, when it will then start the same process on the selected floor. The Phase 2 keyed switch in the car has an “Off”, “On” and sometimes a “Hold” positions as follows: 

The “Hold” position: allows fire personnel to remove the key and search a floor while the elevator car is waiting with the doors open. Off position: Puts elevator back into phase 1 control, unless elevator is not in phase I, then the elevator will stay at that location with doors open until it is put into phase 2 again, returned to lobby and then switched to the off position. On position: Puts the elevator into firefighter’s independent service. 

TIP: 'Bypass' puts elevator back into service regardless of whether the smoke detectors are reset. The key must be kept in switch when it is in the bypass position. The 'bypass' position is used to override any automated recall resulting from a fire alarm or smoke sensor. Older elevators will have 'bypass' instead of 'hold.'

*If the alarm is reset and fire service turned off and the elevators do not return to normal service, try and place the key back in and use the bypass-then off to reset them. 

Note: The 'bypass' feature is being replaced with a 'reset' feature for elevators installed or altered under ASME A17.1a, 2002.


The type of elevator: Is it hydraulic or traction? This can help you determine the location of the elevator machine room. 

Mechanical room locations: This is where you will SECURE THE MAIN POWER to the elevator. Traction elevator mechanical rooms will usually be on the roof in a penthouse (the box type structure on the roof). Hydraulic EMR's can be anywhere, but usually are located in the basement or the ground floor. Perform lockout/tagout or assign a fireman with a portable radio stationed at the shutoff when the power is secured.

REMEMBER: Do not touch the controllers for the elevator (technicians only).


Shunt Trip Device:  If the fire helmet on the gang station panel inside the elevator is blinking, do NOT use the elevator. It trips when water, fire, or smoke are in the hoistway, or upon activation of a heat detector in an elevator machine room protected by sprinklers. It removes the main power prior to sprinkler activation, stopping the elevator, trapping firemen inside. They will lose control of the elevator and have to force their way out. If it's blinking, take the stairs or use another bank and notify the IC. 

See more on shunt trip devices here.


Proper tools to carry and use of the elevator keys: Common hoistway keys are single/double drop, lunar, barrel and 'T' key. Most doors will have a key hole on the hoistway door (except in the state of CA). If not present, the lobby and top floor should have them. Some keys (Lunar) may be at the bottom wall in between hoistway doors. Carry forcible entry tools (activated shunt trip can trap you inside the elevator) jarclose tool, pike pole, broomstick, hydraulic ram, flashlight, and a door chock. If removing passengers through top hatch on the floor above, bring collapsible attic/scissor ladders, ropes and harnesses.

Car top inspection station: Elevators have a car top inspection station that allows the car to be operated by a mechanic in order to move it through the hoistway. Generally, there are three buttons: UP, RUN, and DOWN. Both the RUN and a direction button must be held to move the car in that direction, and the elevator will stop moving as soon as the buttons are released. Most other elevators have an up/down toggle switch and a RUN button. The inspection panel also has standard power outlets for work lamps and power tools. It also has a stop button and light switch. This stop or off button can be activated in addition to the mainline power. However, do not substitute this for the main power!

Unlocking Zone: The unlocking zone is usually 3-18 inches from the landing where the restrictor is not engaged, and the car door if rolled properly, will open. (This is allowed because there is not enough room for the doors to fall down the hoistway at this point.)

Hoistway: The hoistway is a shaft encompassing the elevator car.

Blind Hoistway: A blind hoistway (shaft) is a bank where elevators do not serve every floor. EXAMPLE: In a 50 story building, the elevator will only service the 1st floor lobby, then proceed directly to the 30th floor and only service floors 30-50, leaving floors 2-29 a 'blind' hoistway. These will usually require a technical rescue, or an adjacent car removal IF the hoistway doors are not accessible. (Some codes require an escutcheon tube (keyhole) on every other floor)

Lowering a hydraulic elevator: Some fire departments do not allow firemen to lower hydraulic elevators. Check your SOP's.

When to request an elevator mechanic: If it's a crush injury, make sure the elevator company knows that for an emergency priority response. A17.1 Code Requirement- A 24 hour service card with contact information for the elevator company must be located in EMR.

Know elevator, mechanical room & hoistway anatomy: Traction motor, winding drum, crosshead, safety plank, safety interlock, door gibs, roller guides, overspeed governors, traveling cable, counterweights, pit switch, buffer springs, guide rails, car top inspection, emergency exit hatch, blind shaft, elevator banks, and the difference between a car door (travel car door) and a hoistway door (at the landing and part of the structure). Common hoistway doors are swing doors, center slide, single slide, double slide and bi-parting (freight). (See diagram below) 

Force Entry: Although not recomended, and rarely needed, If you ever have to force the door for a life threatening emergency, do it near the top of the door near the locking mechanism, not the bottom. Bi-parting freight elevators can be spread vertically between the doors using hydraulic rams, jacks, spreaders (cribbing).

Passenger Contact: Make contact with trapped passengers and assure them you're going to get them out and keep them calm, prevent panic, and ask if anyone has a medical emergency. Ask them if the emergency stop button is activated. Ask what floor they're stuck on. If they are at the landing, ask them to push the 'open door' button. 

Securing the mainline power: Next to the MAIN power shutoff is the 110v power shutoff to the car lights, fan, phone etc.. This is NOT the same as securing the MAIN POWER. It's a different shutoff and should be left on.

High Voltage: Be careful of high voltage cabinets and moving machinery in the EMR: Be careful with loose clothing, portable radio straps and cords when working near the moving parts of the motor. It's dangerous and can cause death or serious injury if caught in the machinery. Also watch tools around the high voltage cabinets. (EMR 600 Volts AC)

Counterweights: Be cognizant of the counterweights from other elevators moving in the same bank you're working in, when on top of an elevator car.

TIP: Visiting EMR's should be part of the fire preplan. Make sure the key works to the machine room door. Check to see if the power disconnects are numbered correctly. Take a few minutes to watch the driving machine of an elevator in action. Hydraulic EMR's are usually located on the ground floor or basement and have reservoirs with bleeder valves to lower the car.

Two types of driving systems for rope-type elevators include drum method (winding-drum type elevator) and traction method (traction type elevator). 


There are 3 common types of driving machines for elevators (in addition to hydraulic applications).

Gearless Machine: A higher speed elevator usually found in high-rises. (traction)

Geared Machine: A slower speed than the gearless, commonly found in mid-rises and low-rises. (traction)

Winding Drum: These are being phased out due to code, but are still around in older passenger and freight elevator.

TIP: Knowing the anatomy of elevators is essential for heavy rescue companies. If performing an extrication, recovery, crush, or pin in an elevator shaft, it's critical to know the mechanical, moving, and structural parts of the elevator. 

Phase 1-2 Passenger Removal Video

Good video by Jeff Tokar from the Garland Texas Fire Department. This video also covers phase 1, 2 fire recall. 

California isn't permitted to have keyhole access for elevators. See how to pick a car door here..


Video by Tom Novak from the Toms River Fire Department. A basic overview for firefighters when responding to elevator emergencies involving hydraulic elevators. 

Geared Traction

Mainly used in high rises. The drive motor and drive sheave are connected in line on a common shaft, without any mechanical speed reduction unit located between the drive motor and drive sheave. Generally, gearless machines are used for high speed lifts.

Gearless Traction

Used in low and mid rise applications. The "ropes" (made of steel) are connected to the counterweight on one end, and the elevator on the other end. The ropes are slung over the traction sheave, which is driven by the motor, causing the elevator to move. 

Winding Drum

Used in older passenger and freight elevator applications, though now rarely seen except for dumbwaiters. For many years now the Elevator Safety Code has disallowed the use of such machines for passenger applications.  

Hydraulic Elevator Power

In hydraulic elevators, a piston filled with fluid raises and lowers the car. It's much slower than the traction elevator and usually located in buildings of five stories or less (and parking garages).

Hydraulic Reservoir

Hydraulic reservoirs with an overheating sump pump can heat up hydraulic fluid causing a smoke condition and activating the fire alarm system in the building. 

Lowering Hydraulic Elevator

Lowering the hydraulic elevator can be accomplished by locating the bleeder valve at the reservoir tank in the EMR and partially opening the valve slowly while communicating with other members at the landing. MUST BE DONE WITH THE MAIN POWER SHUT OFF.  



*Are there elevator keys/hoistway keys in the knox box?

*How many occupants are stuck in the elevator? What floor are they stuck on? (Check the lit number display above the door)

*Is there a medical emergency? Does EMS need to respond?

*What type of elevator is it, passenger or freight? Is it hydraulic or traction? This will help you determine the EMR location and lowering capability.

*Where's the mechanical room to SECURE THE POWER?

*Has an elevator technician been called? Is one even needed?

*Is your crew capable of performing an elevator passenger removal?

*Is there a fire or crush injury involved? Do you have the needed personnel and equipment?

*Is there a building representative or maintenance on scene? If not, contact the building representative.

*Are passengers within the landing zone? If so, ask them to check the STOP button, and press the DOOR OPEN button. If NOT within the landing zone, try recalling the elevator to the lobby by placing it in Phase 1 (firefighter recall). If that doesn't work, try shutting the power off to the elevator for 30 seconds, and then turn it back on. (Newer elevators may be run by computers that have to reset) If the car is still stalled SECURE THE POWER to the elevator and determine the best method of removal. 

Lowering: If it's a hydraulic elevator, passenger or freight, you can manually lower it to the landing, depending on if it's permissible by the fire department in that jurisdiction. FIRST SECURE THE MAIN POWER.

TIP: Sometimes just wiggling the car doors shut will return the elevator to service. There could be a break in the electric contacts.


HOISTWAY DOORS: There are many different types of hoistway doors (center opening, swing, bi-parting). Elevator hoistway doors protect riders from falling into the shaft. The most common hoistway doors are:

*Single slide door: One power operated single panel sliding doors. 
*Single speed center opening: Two power operated panels that part simultaneously.
*Two speed side opening: Two power operated panels that are geared together. 
*Two speed center opening doors: Same as one speed center opening doors but it consist of four power operated panels. 

The hoistway door and elevator car door work together to open the doors at the landing using rollers, a door operator, restrictor, vane or clutch and an interlock. The door operator consists of an electric motor generally with some type of speed reduction system (either gears or belts), mechanical linkages to the car doors and a motor speed control system.

The master door operator uses one door operator on the car to open and close the car doors. The car doors in turn are mechanically linked to the hoistway doors so that when the elevator is stopped at a particular landing the hoistway doors for that landing open and close in synchronism with the elevator car doors. ​

Door Types

Swing Doors

Bi-Parting Doors

Center Opening

Two-Speed Side Opening

Two-Speed Center Opening

Single Slide Door

Safety Features

Safety Components: Electric elevators are equipped with two primary safety mechanisms: a governor which controls the elevator's speed by controlling the speed of the cable pulleys, and the emergency brake which consists of jaws that grip the elevator guide rails in the event the cables break. Elevators also include electromechanical door interlocks to prevent the elevator from operating if the door is not completely closed and to protect passengers from being trapped by the closing door. The same door interlocks also prevent the outer doors on each floor from opening if the elevator is not present.

Operation: Most elevators use counterweights which equal the weight of the elevator plus 40% of its maximum rated load. This counter-weight reduces the weight the motor must lift and ensures that the elevator cannot fall out of control while the cable is intact. In a lifting drum installation, a hoist cable runs down from a drive drum attached to the hoist motor, around a large pulley on the top of the elevator, up to a second pulley hanging from the roof of the elevator shaft, and down again to the counterweight. In a traction drum installation, the cable runs from the elevator, up and once around a drive drum attached to the hoist motor, then back to the counterweight. The elevator, called the car, and the counterweight each run in their own sets of guide rails. A second governor cable runs from the car up to a governor pulley, then down to a tension pulley at the bottom of the elevator shaft, and up to the car again. This cable rotates the governor pulley at a speed directly proportional to the speed of the car. In the event of excessive car speed, the governor uses another cable to activate the emergency brake jaws which grip the guide rails and slow the car to a stop

Anti-egress Device

Anti-Egress Lock Device: Allows car doors to open from inside by only 4 inches unless car is near landing. 

Door Restrictor

 Prevents passengers from opening car doors when an elevator is stopped between floors Reduced risk of falls and injuries from self-evacuation and untrained assisted evacuation- Otis

Door Restrictor

A broken door restrictor was blamed for a San Francisco doctor falling to his death after opening the elevator doors when it became stuck between floors. 


Prevents the door from opening UNLESS it's in the right position.


Prevents the moving elevator from opening its doors, and prevents the stationary elevator from moving while doors are open.


Devices on the hoistway door which mate with the clutch on the car 

Elevator Door Restrictors: Prevents the car doors of an elevator from opening more than four inches when the elevator is not within its "landing zone," which is usually 18 inches above or below the floor landing. Since 1980, due to numerous elevator accidents involving passengers riding the top of elevator cars, the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) started incorporated door restrictors by code.  


There are two types of door restrictors:

Electronic door restrictor- This door restrictor is tied into the door existing door systems and is installed on the top of the elevator cab. The restrictor is set up so that there are sensors in the hoistway that operate the restrictor's plunger. The plunger ultimately is what disables the doors ability to open and close.

Mechanical door restrictor- This door restrictor is hooked onto the door operating clutch, which is a part of what opens and closes the hoistway doors. It is purely mechanical functioning system. 

There are two basic types of mechanical door restrictors: The clutch-type restrictor which consists of a latch located at the top of the car doors and the angle iron restrictor which consists of projections fastened to the car door and hoistway similar to an angle iron.

Restrictors keep people from getting out of a stalled or malfunctioning elevator that is out of the unlocking zone (3-18 inches above or below a landing) and putting themselves in danger. REMEMBER: If the restrictor is active and the elevator car stops while firefighters are inside operating on phase 2, they will have to force their way out (why we bring the hydraulic ram).


Door operation method: Elevator doors are normally opened by a power unit that is located on top of the elevator car. When an elevator car is level with a floor landing, the power unit moves the car door open or closed. A pick-up arm (clutch, vane, bayonet, or cam) contacts rollers on the hoistway door which releases the door latch on the hoistway door. The power unit opens the car door which in turn opens the hoistway door. The door rollers and pick-up arm may be different on various elevators but they all work on the same principle. The car door does all the work; the hoistway door is a dependent and part of the structure.  

Door Operator: A motor-driven device mounted on the elevator car that opens and closes the car doors. VIDEO- click here

Car Door Operator

A motor-driven device mounted on the elevator car that opens and closes the car doors 


Threaded rods to which the hoist cables are socketed and which bolt to the hitch plate and the counterweight 

Pit Switch

Light and switch located in most all elevator pits, in addition to a ladder.


Added weight on traction elevators which counterbalances the weight of an elevator car plus approximately 40% of the capacity load. These can be dangerous when firefighters are working in the hoistway.

Roller Guides

Guide shoes that use rollers to rotate on the guide rails instead of slide guides.

Guide Rails

“T” or Omega shaped sections installed vertically in the hoistway to guide and direct the course of travel of either an elevator or its counterweight.


The Gibs is attached to the hoistway door panel at the bottom and rides in the sill. This prevents the door from swinging. Gibs failure, mostly from force impact have caused these to fail sending people down the shaft. WATCH VIDEO

Door Sill

The sill is where the Gibs travels, keeping the hoistway doors secure. Rescue companies should be prepared for children and dogs getting limbs stuck in this space. In Elevators 2, we will cover rescue methods for stuck limbs in this area. 

Gibs Failure

The Gibs keeps the hoistway door panel from swinging in and falling down the hoistway. Once that breaks from impact, WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Traveling Cable

This cable travels with the elevator and provides the 120v power to the car lights, fan, etc..

Overspeed Governor

The governor is a mechanical speed control mechanism. The governor monitors the speed of the car in the down direction by using one rope. If the car travels too fast in the down direction, the governor is tripped and a set of safeties are engaged to stop the car.


The governor in the pit area.


The basic frame which consists of two stiles, a crosshead and a bolster or safety plank which supports the platform and cab of an elevator. 


Photo by Rick Keller: 

The upper member of the car frame.

Car Top Inspection

A control panel on top of an elevator car which, when activated, removes the car from normal service and allows the car to run at inspection speed from the car top station only 


The vertical members of the car sling, one on each side, that fasten the crosshead to the safety plank.

Safety Plank

Photo by ThyssenKrupp:

The bottom member of a sling for a traction elevator which contains the safety 

Drive Machine Motor

Photo by Electrical-Knowhow:

Geared machine and motor (3).

Methods of Removal


When arriving on scene for a stalled elevator with passengers stuck inside, determine how many passengers are inside, what floor they are stuck on, and if there's any medical emergency or disability on board. Assure them and have them remain calm. Before determining a method of removal, instruct the passengers to hit the 'door open' button and give the doors a horizontal wiggle as the elevators might only need to be jimmied closed to operate correctly. Contact a building representative, maintenance or an elevator technician if needed, depending on the incident

First, retrieve the firefighter operation key from the knox box and place the elevator into phase1 operation to see if the elevator recalls to the landing. If that doesn't work, secure the main power to the 

elevator for 30 seconds and turn it back on. This can allow the relays to reset. If the elevators do not reset, secure the main power and perform lockout/tagout or station a member with a radio in the EMR.


If the stalled elevator car is even or within a few feet of the landing, advise the occupants that they will be extricated shortly. Have one occupant press the 'door open' button. If that's not successful, use a key to open the hoistway door and chock it open. Advise the occupants of the car to move to the rear until removal is ready to take place. Open the elevator car door and assist the passengers out of the elevator car. 

VIDEO: Poling techniques may have to be used to open doors.


If the elevator car is more than a few feet above the landing, block the opening to the shaft below the elevator with a ladder to prevent any fall hazards through an exposed hoistway void space.


If the elevator car is more than a few feet below the landing, or stuck in between floors, a ladder may be needed to assist them out OR a car top removal will need to take place. Hydraulic elevators can be lowered.

TIP: Car doors will move freely if within operational range of the floor (18'). If separation is greater, the car door will need to be disengaged. Once activated, the door should move freely.

Other methods of removal vary from car top removal, adjacent car (dangerous), lowering the elevator, to high angle technical rescues in blind shafts. These removal and rescue methods will be covered in Elevator 2.  

TRAINING: For hands on training, take control of one elevator. To take control of and use only one elevator in a bank without placing the entire bank out of service, do the following:

*Place the elevators in phase 1 operation and recall the elevator. 

*Enter the elevator and place the car into phase 2 operations. 

*Take the key out, and then take it back out of phase 1. 

*Continue controlling the elevator you have selected. This will free up the other elevators in that bank. 

Part 2 Elevator Rescue: Advanced passenger removal, forcible entry, extrication, elevator emergencies involving fires, electrical, gas releases, freight elevators, residential single family homes with elevators, accidents, and LODD (Line of Duty Deaths) involving firefighters.

Advanced Elevator Training & Technical Rescue Provided By Dragon Rescue Management Call 914-747-2210

Dragon Rescue Management

In a new segment of Training Minutes, Mike Dragonetti and company review using the poling technique when it comes to elevator rescue. They cover the importance of lockout/tagout procedures, tool tips, and safety, among other operational details. 

11-Step Initial Response Procedures (IRP): Contact elevator mechanic and building management

  • Obtain the building's lock box key, if one is available. The box may contain useful elevator keys.
  • Send two firefighters to the motor room. They should be equipped with keys for the locked motor room, a set of irons, radios, LOTO kit, and an appropriate fire extinguisher.
  • If multiple elevators are present, verify which elevator is stalled. It is very important not to open the wrong hoistway door. Doing so will stop the operating elevator in mid-travel, possibly causing additional problems.
  • Determine the elevator's location in the hoistway.
  • Once you have located the elevator, make immediate verbal contact with the passengers and assure them of their safety. Ask if anyone is ill or injured. Here is where you will determine if you have an fire, injury, panic (FIP) situation.
  • If an emergency stop switch is present inside the car, have a passenger, if possible, turn it off and on a few times. This may restart the elevator.
  • Have a passenger push a couple of floor buttons and/or the "Door Open" button.
  • Have a passenger push close the car doors if they are not fully closed.
  • Activate the Phase I switch (Fireman's Service) in the lobby. This may bring the elevator down to the lobby. Notify the occupants first!
  • Make sure that all hoistway doors are fully closed (front, rear, and side).
  • Cycle the main line disconnect (power switch) to the stalled elevator (turn off, wait 30-45 seconds, and turn back on). Only attempt this once. If the elevator does not respond to this action, it is beyond our capabilities to get the elevator moving again.


Body found in airport elevator shaft: Tampa International (TPA) elevator door was 'compromised'

NYPD Officer Trapped in Apartment Fire Dies


Elderly man loses legs after being pinned by elevator door at Ottawa seniors home

Annette Lujan: Woman Dies in CSU Long Beach Elevator Accident [UPDATED]

Man dies after falling down elevator shaft in Manhattan office building

Boy Recovering After Falling Down Elevator Shaft In Mount Vernon

Sources and Additional Links:

How is an Elevator made?

Intro to Elevator Technology

Elevator Rescue Operations - Basic elevator rescue techniques for all levels of experience

Basic Elevator Components - Part One

Basic Elevator Components - Part Two

Wikipedia Elevators

Elevator and Escalator Rescue Book

Electrical Knowhow- Elevators

Elevator Bobs Elevator Pics

ASME 17.1 is the "Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators."




Dallas Fire Rescue Elevator Rescue

Rio Hondo Truck Academy Elevator Rescue

Machinery Rescue Will You Ever Use That "Man vs Machine" Tool Box?