Elevators and accommodating Gurney/stretchers (California)

Some state elevator inspectors are turning down elevators in buildings that are not sized to accommodate ambulance gurney or stretcher per 2001 CBC, section 3003.5.1a.


1) Does every nonresidential building require a "medical emergency service elevator" per CBC 3003.5.1a?

2) If one elevator is provided in a 2-story retail (M occupancy) or office building (B occupancy), does this elevator have to meet the Gurney Size requirement of section 3003.5.1a ?

3) Does section 3003.5a apply to all occupancies in California or just the occupancies regulated by State Fire Marshal (SFM)?

*** It would be great to hear from a California State Elevator Inspector on this topic. Know any ?

Thank you!
Original Post
Buildings four or more stories in height should have at least one elevator serving each floor of sufficient size to accommodate a 24" X 76" gurney in the horizontal position. UBC Section 3003.5a. and 3003.5.1a

Where are you getting the four or more stories? Are you looking at exception # 5 in section 3003.5a Confused

That exception requires the local jurisdictional authority to grant an exception in the form of a written document (whatever that means Smile )

Section 3003.5a requires all buildings with one or more passenger service elevators to have not less than one "medical emergency service to all landings."
101.17.14 lists the building types that SFM amendments are applicable to.

Reading the matrix adoption tables and 101.17 to determine exactly which amendments apply to which building types is similar to Talmudic scholarship, but I'm starting to get the hang of it Confused Roll Eyes

N.B. The only difference between a gurney-accessible car and the minimum size car allowed by Ch. 11 is that it cannot have a centered door; door must be offset to one side or the other.
This topic of what jurisdiction SFM has on certain buildings remains confusing. Some folks think they have the answer, but Im still not convinced. Heck, I wish the California State Fire Marshal's office would come out and specifically state where they stand on this issue.

Otherwise, it appears we are speculating at best, picking information here and there from code sections and matrix tables, and going in a circle Cool

The elevator cab size (gurney/stretcher requirement) is another point of confusion. State Elevator Inspectors are making calls from the Elevator Code, which local building departments cant not enforce. Somehow, there needs to be a clear interpretation regarding the elevator cab size that meets the CBC and Elevator Code requirements (to satisfy CBC, elevator code requirements and educate owners/designers on their obligations)---but who will step up and do that ??

We had a previous discussion on SFM jurisdiction, here is the link:
Health and Safety Code Section 13143 and California Building Code Section 101.17.14 provides an application scope based on the building's use, roughly institutions, schools, care facilities and assembly occupancies. Combine this with all the exceptions found in 30003.5a you may want to rely upon State Fire Marshall interpretations 00-008 and 00-015 which reply to three questions:

1.Are elevators servicing a two-story building required to accommodate a
stretcher and other emergency medical equipment?

Section 3003.5(a) of the California Building Code (including its references
Section 3003.5) provide that all buildings and structures with one or more
passenger service elevators shall provide at least one elevator for medical
emergency services.

2. Does Section 3003.5(a), Exception #4, California Building Code apply to a
two-story building having a stairway exiting directly to the exterior when
the stairway is sized to accommodate a stretcher or other emergency
medical equipment?

Exceptions #4 and #5 may apply in two-story buildings.
Exception #4 speaks to elevators in a two-story building equipped with stairs in a
configuration, which will accommodate the carrying of the gurney, or stretcher as
permitted by the local authority having jurisdiction.
Exception #5 references elevators in buildings less than four stories for which the
local jurisdictional authority has granted an exception in writing.

3.When an elevator cab in a non-high-rise building does not meet the size
requirements specified in Section 3003.5 of the California Building Code,
and the building is an occupancy regulated by the SFM, who is the
jurisdictional authority responsible for the application of this section?

In this case, the jurisdictional authority would be the local fire department as the
building in question is an occupancy regulated by the State Fire Marshal. This is
authorized by Section 13146 of the California Health and Safety Code. The
State Fire Marshal does adopt Sections 3003.5 through reference as found in
Section 3003.5a, California Building Code.
Point of question? How is it that an elevator inspector will sign off on a non-ADA compliant elevator but will accept a gurney sized cab? On told me the other day that they are not responsible for CBC compliance. I believe the elevator code says they are. Comments please?
These are my opinions regarding the questions attached:

Question 1: Not necessarily, because not all multistory buildings require an elevator.

Question 2: Yes, unless the local fire jurisdiction permits implementation of Exception 4 of Section 3003.5a.

Question 3: This type of question has been asked (and answered) for years. Building Code sections written and adopted by the State Fire Marshal apply to all occupancies. Thus, the italicized portions of Section 3003 CBC apply to elevators in B and M occupancies.

Bill Greene
Fire Marshal
Davis CA
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