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News & Press: SFPE News

FPE Extra Issue 18, June 2017

Friday, June 23, 2017  
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Stair and Elevator Pressurization Design Considerations

By Steve Strege, P.E.


Under the current International Building Code (IBC), high-rise and underground buildings of more than 30 feet below grade require smoke-proof enclosures. In addition, elevator lobbies are required for any hoistway connecting four or more floors. The primary purpose of these requirements is to protect vertical shafts from smoke infiltration, thus mitigating floor-to-floor smoke spread in the event of a fire.


A common method used for smoke-proofing enclosures is stairwell pressurization. Similarly, elevator pressurization may be used in lieu of elevator lobbies to protect the elevator hoistways from smoke infiltration. Elevator pressurization is often the preferred method by architects, since lobbies take up valuable floor space and may detract from desired building circulation schemes. Buildings that use both elevator and stairwell pressurization can be challenging because the two systems may have competing airflow paths.


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