Emergency Communication System for Elevators

Any person who’s been stuck in an elevator knows how important it is to communicate with emergency services and make sure help is on the way. While two-way communication systems have been required in passenger elevators for quite some time, that system usually consisted of a phone connection through a speaker within the elevator car. While this may work for most people, those who are hearing impaired, or who may have a speech impairment, were not able to communicate with the emergency responder on the other end.

In 2018, the International Building Code (IBC) introduced language that requires passenger elevators to provide for two-way communication systems for individuals with varying degrees of hearing loss or speech impairment. This mandates the communication system provide the individual in the elevator live interaction with emergency services using a text and video-based system.

The 2021 version of the IBC went on to further clarify that the communication system must provide both a text mode and an audible mode that allows the individual in the elevator to select their preferred method of communication. For example, for someone who may have severe hearing loss, the ability to communicate via text mode may work better than attempting to communicate orally. The use of a keyboard provided with the elevator car would allow for those who choose to communicate via text mode. The 2021 IBC also clarified that the system must be operational during all times the elevator is operational.

Learn more about these code changes from BRR’s Director of Code Services, Eirene Knott, as she explains further in our latest Code Update video.