A recent NY Times article caught my attention: “The American Elevator Explains Why Housing Costs Have Skyrocketed”. (See below for article link) The author is the founder and executive director of the Center for Building in North America. One conclusion he makes in the article is this: “Elevators in North America have become over-engineered, bespoke, handcrafted and expensive pieces of equipment that are unaffordable in all the places where they are most needed. Special interests here have run wild with an outdated, inefficient, overregulated system.”

One reason it caught my attention is that the NFPA 1225 code which is now part of the California Fire Code defines elevators as critical areas, and since 99% of critical areas need ERRCS (in the relevant buildings), then elevators will now need ERRCS. For those in the business, this probably isn’t news, but for many property owners, it may be a revelation.

My initial gut reaction was that if he thought elevators were already expensive, he doesn’t know that half of it given the ERRCS requirement.

However, on second thought (and since my initial reactions are usually erroneous), I realized that the required ubiquity of radio (ERRCS) and cellular DAS (cellphones) really requires that elevators provide coverage. If someone is trapped in an elevator their cell phone service is required for a 911 call and first responders will always prefer to use their radios to communicate as opposed to the older plug-in phone jack systems. So, it really has become a necessity to deliver wireless services into these Faraday cages we call elevators.

The NFPA 1225, the Standard for Emergency Services Communications, includes specific requirements related to elevators to ensure reliable communication during emergencies. The 2022 edition of NFPA 1225 defines critical areas to include elevators, requiring 99% floor area radio coverage within these spaces. This high coverage standard is essential to ensure that firefighters and emergency responders can communicate effectively while inside elevator cars and lobbies during an emergency.

Key Points about Elevators in NFPA 1225:

1. Critical Areas: Elevators, including elevator lobbies and hoistways, are designated as critical areas. These areas must have robust radio coverage to facilitate reliable communication.

2. Radio Coverage: The standard mandates that all elevator cars must achieve 99% radio coverage to ensure emergency responders can communicate without interruption.

3. Equipment and Installation: To meet these requirements, buildings may need to install leaky coaxial cables or other signal-boosting equipment within elevator shafts. These installations must comply with NFPA 72, which covers fire alarm and signaling systems.

4. Pathway Survivability: NFPA 1225 emphasizes the importance of pathway survivability for communication systems in critical areas, ensuring that conduits, cables, and wiring are protected to maintain functionality during a fire.


Design and Installation: Building owners and managers must ensure that the design and installation of ERRCS comply with these standards. This includes using fire-rated and UL 2196-listed coaxial cables to meet the required pathway survivability levels.

Coordination with Fire Codes: The implementation of these systems must be coordinated with other relevant fire safety codes, such as NFPA 13 for sprinkler systems and the California Building Code (CBC), to ensure comprehensive safety measures.

For more detailed information and how IBWS can help you with ERRCS or Cellular DAS, please reach out to us. ChatGPT and specific information from the San Francisco FD helped with this blog. All errors are mine.

Article Link: