You are the OIC on the engine today. You run a box alarm to a four story office building and you are first in.You have 4 engines, 2 trucks, and a rescue company, along with the chief responding. It is Saturday morning at 0700hrs. You have a crew of four and the truck company will be arriving within a minute. The other units responding will be on scene within minutes, however the chief is delayed and won't be on scene for 5 minutes.

As you enter the lobby you see lazy black smoke starting to fill the lobby. To the left of the elevator is a room marked, "Elevator Control Room" and smoke is pushing around the door frame.

What are your concerns? 

What are your strategy and tactics for this situation?

What assignments do you make?

What type of fire could you be dealing with and how will you mitigate this scenario?

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Size up the situation; its 7am on a Saturday so I doubt any more than a cleaning crew are in the building, but will ask someone when we arrive or check for a log in book at the front desk to see if they sign into the building.  Send two of my four firefighters to search the floors above and assist with evacuation if needed down the opposite stair well from elevator shaft.

Look at the alarm panel to determine how many floors have alarm activations.

Control the elevators so no one in the building uses them.

Force open door to elevator mechanical room after assessing its condition and extinguish any fire, have the ladder company check the first floor and elevator shaft for extension.

Have first ladder Co. set up their ladder in case its needed for rescue or quick blitz if this gets out of hand.

Shut down power to elevator and try to isolate the mechanical room.

Vent any smoke in building if not equipped with smoke controlling system already.

Check for any additional elevator mechanical rooms, including the roof access for the elevator, to make sure there is no additional fires or extension.

Make sure there are enough coffee and donuts for when the chief finaly arrives.  (Sorry, just wanted to see if anyone read this or not!)

The second engine reverse lays to the nearest hydrant and prepares to supply first due.  The third engine supplies ladder off of separate hydrant if needed.

Rescue is FAST (or slow depending on the crew)

My experience has been 80% rural, single family dwellings, so if I missed anything or screwed anything up please advise.

I like these, they keep you thinking (And for once I got to be the first answer!!) which could be good or bad...LOL

Stay Safe

What are your concerns?


Electricity still energized, oil/lubricant's probably on fire, people potentially in the elevator


What are your strategy and tactics for this situation?


Check with TIC. Shut off power, consider indirect attack....considering most elevator control rooms are small rooms and tend to be enclosed with masonry or steel, usually locked meaning potential for victims inside are very slim....a piercing nozzle through the door and let steam smother the fire. Otherwise perhaps using a dry chem extinguisher along with a line, quick hit, open the door, close it, let the fire smother before checking again.


What assignments do you make?


1st Engine Fire attack

2nd Engine Back up

3rd Engine standby at standpipe/sprinkler connection if building is equipped

4th Engine RIT


1st Truck, pass command to officer (since Batt is delayed) and now I no longer have to worry about making additional assignments :-)


Truck and Rescue companies search for extension/people, shut off power/utility control, ventilate, force entry, other typical truck duties.


What type of fire could you be dealing with and how will you mitigate this scenario?


Potentially you have a burning motor/or transformer which could be energized, hence reason for an indirect attack and use of dry chem. Otherwise potential for oil/grease on fire creating black smoke. Either way, an elevator room tends to be a small, enclosed space and even a small fire can create a lot of smoke. Considering the room most likely is small, enclosed, and typically locked, there should be no problem with reach from the door with an extinguishing agent, meaning no reason to commit personnel into the room itself until power is confirmed off, and fire is out, before checking for extension and to overhaul.

Hopefully this building has been pre-planned so we know if there is likely any occupancy on a Saturday. If the pre-plan iindicates any likely occupancy, pull the fire alarm to alert any occupants and then send the first in truck company crew to check any possible areas of occupancy on Saturday as indicated by the pre-plan.


Establish command outside the building.


If the building is sprinklered, assign second due engine to the FDC, and the third engine to lay a supply line from the closest hydrant as supply. If building is not second due establish water supply for first due, and have third due find another hydrant as second water supply. Fourth due stages with 3rd due at 2nd hydrant to lay in if water/fire attack is needed elsewhere. All manpower except driver reports to staging.


Get a second alarm rolling, probably with at least another 2 companies special called above the second.


Assign first due engine to strtech a line, based on the size of that room off the pre-plan information.


If the second due engine at the FDC is close to a hydrant and does not need an engine to lay a supply line, assign the third due engine to lay a supply line for the engine. If third due needs to lay a supply line for the pump at the FDC, assign the 4th due.


Second due truck goes to the floor above for search. Manpowe from 2nd, 3rd and 4th due engines assist first due engine  with attack line, backup line, fire attack, FE into the room, etc.


Rescue assigned as RIT.

Besides your normal responsibilities there would be several other considerations. The elevator control room has two hazards, electrical power and the hydraulic fluid tank.

Neither should be extinguished with water or foam. Removing the electric power is difficult because the shut off is in the room. My suggestion would be to have an attack line ready, used Class "B or C" extinguisher to control. Open the door to the room only enough to put the extinguisher nozzle inside. Use the entire extinguisher and close the door. Wait a minute then check to see if the fire is extinguished. Have extra extinguishers ready in case if more are needed.

The other problem is checking the elevator car for occupants. The car location can be found by accessing the elevator shaft on the 1st floor. The car may have drifted to the pit if the fire was large enough to burst the hydraulic lines. Assistance from an elevator mechanic and the electric power company will be needed, call for them early.  

Thats good to know, I dont know much about elevators and this came in handy.  The only elevators I have in my district are Hay Elevators on the barns!!

I didnt think that the amount of Hydraulic fluid present in the elevator rooms would be a problem.  I thought a fog pattern off the ceiling would be enough to cool the room down and keep fire in check until the power is cut and the supply tanks for the hydraulics are checked over for leaks or openings.  Usually the only hydraulic fluid you will find is coming from the lines themselves as they burn through I would imagine, and would not impact the use of water on the fire.  If the tank ruptured and the fluid was all over than thats one thing I guess, but generally aren't we just dealing with minimal fluid from burnt through lines?

So the elevator mechanical rooms are not on separate breakers for ease of controlling the electric?  Thats interesting, I didnt know that.  Having the shut-offs in the room poses a hazard and makes it difficult.  Are they generally right inside the door, or are they located in a difficult place to reach?

Thanks again for the info, I appreciate it and learned something new, thanks!



Generally as you walk in the door there will be two sets of electric panels for each elevator. One is the mainline disconnect (large) and another for the lights, fan, & music (smaller). The mainline disconnect will control the elevator movement. If you have more than one elevator in the lobby than you will have a set of  electric switches for each elevator. If you have four elevators then you will have four mainline and four axillary shut offs.

The fluid in the tank depends on the height of the lift and which type of hydraulic elevator is encountered. It is not unusual to find 100 gallons of hydraulic oil per tank. If a tank was burning and no electrical components were involved water alone would not extinguish the fire. It may cause it to boil over and cause the fire to spread. You could use a foam line to remove the air from the burning liquid. 

Since the black smoke is pushing from the elevator control room I would assume it is the hydrualic fluid burning. The first priority is to secure power to the building.  Myself and my engineer would be outside as a two out. Tactically I would have the fire attack crew (2 from Engine #1) enter with a charged hose line (as a back up) but have the primary extinguishing agent be a CO2 extinguisher. The incoming truck would be my ventilation group. Engine #2 water supply (reverse lay) and assist my FF's with extinguishment. Engine #3 RIT. Truck #2 and Engine #4 Search Group. Rescue #1 Ready Rescue.


My conerns are extension outside of the control room and utilizing water may spread the fire if it is a liquid fuel burning. 

I agree it is a fire in the elevator control room, be prepared for a flammable liquids fire in combination with an electrical fire.

I disagree with shutting the power off to the building.  Generally you will find an electrical disconnect either just inside the room for the elevator equipment, OR you can go to the main electrical room and shut off the power to the elevator control room.  Killing the power to the entire building kills the lights, any possible use of the ventilation sysytem for removing smoke, and any building wide PA system for directing occupants.

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