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Fire Service Mode (EFS) is an elevator special mode which is activated in the event of a fire in a building, and used by firefighters for firefighting. Fire service mode is only found in fireman's elevator, or in some places, all elevators must be equipped with fireman's operation. Fire service was mandated in the United States in 1973 for new elevators/elevator modernizations rising 25 feet or more. In the 1980's, for all new elevators/elevator modernizations, fire service was mandated.


Depending on the location of the elevator, fire service code will vary state to state and country to country. Fire service is usually split up into two modes: Phase One and Phase Two.

Phase One

This mode is activated by a corresponding smoke sensor in the building, heat sensor in the building or the keyswitches on the call station in the main entrance level. Once an alarm has been activated, the elevator will automatically go into phase one. The elevator will wait an amount of time, then proceed to go into nudging mode to tell everybody the elevator is leaving the floor. Once the elevator has left the floor, depending on where the alarm was set off, the elevator will go to the fire recall floor. However, if the alarm was activated on the fire recall floor the elevator will have an alternate floor to recall to. When the elevator is recalled, it proceeds to the recall floor and stops with its doors open.

The elevator will no longer respond to calls or move in any direction. Located on the fire recall floor is a fire service key switch. The fire service key switch has the ability to turn fire service off, turn fire service on or to bypass fire service. The only way to return the elevator to normal service is to switch it to bypass after the alarms have reset.

Phase Two

This mode can only be activated by a key switch located inside the elevator on the centralized control panel. This mode was created for firefighters so that they may rescue people from a burning building.

The phase two key switch located on the COP has three positions: off, on, and hold. By turning phase two on, the firefighter enables the car to move. In Fire Service Phase Two, the car call can be canceled by pressing the call cancel button. However, like independent service mode, the car will not respond to a car call unless the firefighter manually pushes and holds the door close button.

Once the elevator gets to the desired floor it will not open its doors unless the firefighter holds the door open button. This is in case the floor is burning and the firefighter can feel the heat and knows not to open the door. The firefighter must hold door open until the door is completely opened.

If for any reason the firefighter wishes to leave the elevator, they will use the hold position on the key switch to make sure the elevator remains at that floor. If the firefighter wishes to return to the recall floor, they simply turn the key off and close the doors.

Fire Service is for emergency use only, although fire service keys can be purchased on eBay, and other websites. Only trained responders should use this feature, and it is by no means a safe way to escape from a burning building.

On some older elevators, the phase two key switch on the COP will instead be labeled "off", "on", and "bypass". The off and on modes are the same as in newer elevators. However, unlike the bypass mode on the phase one station, the in-car bypass mode bypasses the hoistway door interlock and gate switch and allows the elevator to run in the down direction at inspection speed even if the doors are opened. The intent was to allow the elevator to be operated in the event that the fire or subsequent firefighting operations resulted in damage to the door locks. In practice, it proved to be extremely dangerous and is no longer permitted.

​Fire service in other countries


In Australia, the recall floor keyswitch only has two modes: On and Off. On the COP, the switch has three modes: On, Off and Start. Off and On behave like US fire service, but instead of holding the Door Close button or floor button to close the door, turning the fire service keyswitch to Start closes the door.

​United Kingdom and Asia

Phase 1 is activated only by the fire system in the building. The fire service key is a simple keyswitch and sometimes intercom. It is activated by the same key used to open shaft doors (Drop or Triangle) or flip switch protected by a glass, which puts it straight into Phase 2. Inside, no keyswitch needs to be set; it can be operated as soon as the external key is set.


  • In Asia and some countries in Europe, fire service mode is activated through a flip/toggle switch (for designated fireman's elevator only), usually located on a small panel and installed on the upper door frame or wall on the main entrance level and isolated using a clear glass.
  • In Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Canada and United States, fire service mode is activated through a key switch located on the call button panel.
  • During fire service mode, photo-electric door reopening devices are disabled because smoke may interfere with their operation.
  • In ThyssenKrupp elevators, the L204 key is used to activate the fire service mode.
  • In Mitsubishi elevators, the Phase One mode also known as Fire Emergency Return (FER), while the Phase Two is known as Firefighters' Emergency Operation (FE)[1] as same as the label stick beside the fireman's switch in Hong Kong, China.



Notes and references

See also

External links

Elevator Special Modes 

Anti-Crime Protection (ACP)Attendant service (AS)Earthquake emergency return (EER)Emergency power operation (EPR) • Fire service mode (EFS) (Fireman's elevator) • Independent service (ISC) • Inspection service (INS) • Medical emergency/Code Blue service (EHS)Nudge modeOut of service • Peak times modes (Up peak (MIT) • Down peak) • Pet modeSabbath service (SHO)

See Also: List of Elevator and Escalator Brands • Elevator Fixtures Guide

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