Elevator Machine rooms, and other important spaces

Over the last few decades, I have observed many projects where plumbing and HVAC equipment and piping are located in places they should not be placed. Many of us know the National Electric Code requirement for service space of electric panels (nothing located 6’ above the panel - up to the ceiling - and 3’ in front of the panel). This month’s Code Tidbit discusses Elevator Machine Rooms and Hoistways, Fire Pump Rooms, and Emergency Generator Rooms.

Elevator Machine Rooms are governed by chapter 30 of the Building Code. It states:


§3006.6 Plumbing systems. Plumbing systems shall not be located in elevator equipment rooms.

It also requires compliance with ASME A17.1-2007. Section 2.8.3 is: Pipes, Ducts, Tanks, and Sprinklers. Let’s start with the following sections:


§ Steam and hot-water pipes shall be permitted to be installed in hoistways, machinery spaces, machine rooms, control spaces, and control rooms for the purpose of heating these areas only…


§ All risers and return pipes shall be located outside the hoistway…


§ Traps and shut off valves shall be provided in accessible locations outside the hoistway.


§ All risers shall be located outside these spaces… (see above for these spaces).

The point is clear. The Code and ASME A17.1 (aka, the Elevator Code) generally does not permit anything in the elevator hoistway or the elevator machine room that does not serve these spaces.

Fire Pump Rooms are governed, in part, by NFPA 20. The Code compliance path is from the Fire Code. It is also from the Building Code via NFPA 13. It in turn references NFPA 20. From NFPA 20: Rooms containing fire pumps shall be free from storage and penetrations not essential to the operation of the pump and related components.


5.12.6* Drainage. Floors shall be pitched for adequate drainage of escaping water away from critical equipment such as the pump, driver, controller, and so forth. The pump room or pump house shall be provided with a floor drain that will discharge to a frost-free location.

From, there should be no penetrations that do not serve the room – penetrations like domestic water and sanitary pipes, storm pipes, etc. It also indicates we need a drain in the pump room. The intent is to drain any leaking water and keep it away from the pump.

Emergency Generator Rooms are governed by the Building Code; Fire Code; and by reference, NFPA 110.


7.2 Location.


7.2.1 The EPS shall be installed in a separate room for Level 1 installations (See below for Levels). EPSS equipment shall be permitted to be installed

in this room. The room shall have a minimum 2-hour fire rating or be located in an adequate enclosure located outside the building

capable of resisting the entrance of snow or rain at a maximum wind velocity required by local building codes. No other equipment, including architectural appurtenances, except those that serve this space, shall be permitted

in this room.


4.4* Level. This standard recognizes two levels of equipment installation, performance, and maintenance.


4.4.1* Level 1 systems shall be installed when failure of the equipment to perform could result in loss of human life or serious injuries.


4.4.2* Level 2 systems shall be installed when failure of the EPSS to perform is less critical to human life and safety and where the authority having jurisdiction shall permit a higher degree of flexibility than that provided by a Level 1 system.

In short, don’t put stuff in the generator room that doesn’t serve the generator.


The above provides some insight into critical spaces in buildings. Namely, various codes and standards mandate that the Elevator Machine Room (elevators are used for Fire Service and rescue), Fire Pump Rooms, and Emergency Generator Rooms are kept clear of equipment and penetrations (like pipes) that do not serve these spaces.