May 29, 2018


The City of Cleveland's Division of Fire has released this document regarding New Elevator Key Box legislation:

Notification of New Elevator Key Box Legislation

The notice is to inform building/business owners and managers of a newly adopted section of the 2017 Ohio Fire Code. The sections added to the 2017 Ohio Fire Code are listed at the end of this document and pertain to the availability of fire service elevator keys.


In a high-rise building, the Division of Fire relies on the use of elevators to bring personnel and equipment up to stories closer to the floor that has the fire emergency. Elevators can only be safely used during an emergency if they are placed in “Fire Service” which requires that elevator’s fire service elevator keys. A long standing difficulty fire personnel have encountered is a lack of immediate availability of elevator keys for emergency operations, requiring them to carry heavy equipment up many flights of stairs. This situation can delay fire extinguishment and rescue operations.


The Ohio legislators have addressed this issue with the passing of the 2017 Ohio Fire Code (new sections below). The new sections give fire officials the ability to require that any building that does not already use the FEO-K1 clockwise cut elevator key for fire service, to install a small box at each elevator bank at the lobby nearest to the lowest level of fire department access that contains their non-standard fire service elevator keys. The elevator key box will be able to be opened with the FEO-K1 clockwise cut elevator key that fire companies will have assigned to them.


The Division of Fire is committed to providing the highest level of service possible to the citizens of, and visitors to the City of Cleveland. We greatly appreciate your cooperation and would like to thank you ahead of time for cooperation with the Division of Fire to implement this low cost solution that will increase the speed and efficiency of firefighting, fire rescue, and emergency medical operations.


Common Questions and Answers


Question – How do I know if I need to install a new elevator key box?


Answer – To find out if you will need to install a new elevator key box, you simply need to look at your current elevator keys that control Phase I emergency recall, Phase II emergency in-car operation, or fire service access, and ensure they are FEO-K1 cut. Elevator keys should have the cut engraved somewhere on the key (see below picture). If you are unsure, you can contact your elevator service contractor or request via email or phone 216-664-6664 that a fire inspector visit your facility to check for you.



Question – What if my fire service elevator keys are already using the standard FEO-K1 key cut?


Answer – If your fire service elevator keys are already the standard key cut, you do not need to do anything.


Question – What do I do if I need to install an elevator box?


Answer – Submit a plan to install an elevator key box including the following information by email to or in person at the City of Cleveland Fire Prevention Bureau located at 1645 Superior Avenue;

  1. Read and understand the below code sections describing requirements for the elevator key box.
  2. Drawing or picture of the walls (including the elevators) where the proposed elevator key box will be installed (box must be mounted to the right of each elevator bank at the lobby nearest to the lowest level of fire department access, and be mounted 5 feet 6 inches above the finished floor).
  3. A picture with a specification sheet of the elevator key box you are proposing to install
    1. Boxes must be red in color with the label "Fire Department Use Only-Elevator Keys" in white letters, or sides of box must be red with a stainless steel front cover with the label “Fire Department Use Only-Elevator Keys” in black letters
    2. Must be opened with an FEO-K1 cut elevator key, and must contain only the fire service elevator keys that operate your elevators.
  4. Ensure the following information is also included;
    1. Building address
    2. Building name
    3. Your name and title
    4. Contact phone number
    5. Number of elevator banks and number of elevators in each back
    6. Number of elevator key boxes you are installing
    7. Number of fire service elevator keys that will be inside elevator key boxes
    8. Expected completion date

Once your information has been accepted and approved (approval will be via email or telephone), the Fire Prevention Bureau inspector will wait for an email to or phone call to 216-664-6664 indicating that the approved installation has been completed. Once notification is given that the installation is complete a date and time will be set up for an inspector to look at the installation and ensure operation is acceptable.


Question – I have a Knox Box with fire service elevator keys inside it. Do I still need this elevator key box?


Answer – Yes you do. Elevator keys being accessible with a standard cut elevator key will prevent any potential delays in fire or rescue operations that would not otherwise require opening your Knox Box. For example, when responding to a medical emergency where the elevator will be needed to bring the patient down to the first floor on a gurney, the elevator can be controlled and waiting for emergency responders on that floor when they are ready to move the patient.


Question – I am unable to install the elevator key box exactly as required because of an existing condition with my walls or building design.


Answer – In the rare instances that the Fire Code requires existing buildings to comply with a new code, leeway is always given to the local fire department to work with building owners to find workable solutions to the inevitable challenges. The Cleveland Division of Fire is happy to look at your particular situation and work with you to come up with a solution that is acceptable to all parties.


Question – How long do I have to install the elevator key box?


Answer – For building owners and managers who are self-reporting and complying on a voluntary basis, we ask that you submit your paperwork to the fire prevention bureau within 30 days of becoming aware that you are required to install an elevator key box. Once your plans for the installation are approved the installation should be completed within 30 days. Be sure to notify the fire prevention bureau when installation is complete so a final inspection can be scheduled.


Question – How many fire service elevator keys should be inside the installed elevator key box?


Answer – The number of keys will depend on how many elevators with phase I, phase II, or fire service that you have in your building. At a minimum one key per elevator will need to be in the elevator key box.




2017 Ohio Fire Code (F) Section 506 Key boxes (1) 506.1 Where required. Where access to or within a structure or an area is restricted because of secured openings or where immediate access is necessary for life-saving or fire-fighting purposes, the fire code official is authorized to require a key box to be installed in an approved location. The key box shall be of an approved type listed in accordance with UL 1037 as listed in rule 1301:7-7-80 of the Administrative Code, and shall contain keys to gain necessary access as required by the fire code official.


2017 Ohio Fire Code (b) 506.1.2 Key boxes for non-standardized fire service elevator keys. Key boxes provided for non-standardized fire service elevator keys shall comply with paragraph (F)(1)(506.1) of this rule and all of the following:


(i) The key box shall be compatible with an existing rapid entry key box system in use in the jurisdiction and approved by the fire code official.


(ii) The front cover shall be permanently labeled with the words "Fire Department Use Only-Elevator Keys."


(iii) The key box shall be mounted at each elevator bank at the lobby nearest to the lowest level of fire department access.


(iv) The key box shall be mounted 5 feet 6 inches (1676 mm) above the finished floor to the right side of the elevator bank.


(v) Contents of the key box are limited to fire service elevator keys. Additional elevator access tools, keys and information pertinent to emergency planning or elevator access shall be permitted where authorized by the fire code official.


(vi) In buildings with two or more elevator banks, a single key box shall be permitted to be used where such elevator banks are separated by not more than 30 feet (9144 mm). Additional key boxes shall be provided for each individual elevator or elevator bank separated by more than 30 feet (9144 mm).


Exception: A single key box shall be permitted to be located adjacent to a fire command center or the non-standard fire service elevator key shall be permitted to be secured in a key box used for other purposes and located in accordance with paragraph (F)(1) (506.1) of this rule.


2017 Ohio Fire Code (8) 607.8 Standardized fire service elevator keys. Buildings with elevators equipped with Phase I emergency recall, Phase II emergency in-car operation, or a fire service access elevator shall be equipped to operate with a standardized fire service elevator key approved by the fire code official.


Exception:The owner shall be permitted to place the building's nonstandardized fire service elevator keys in a key box installed in accordance with paragraph (F)(1)(b)(506.1.2) of rule1301:7-7-05 of the Administrative Code.


EXISTING CODE - ASME A17.1 - 2.27.8 Switch Keys. The key switches required by 2.27.2 through 2.27.5 and 2.27.11 for all elevators in a building shall be operable by the FEO-K1 key. The keys shall be Group 3 Security (see 8.1). A separate key shall be provided for each switch. These keys shall be kept on the premises in a location readily accessible to firefighters and emergency personnel, but not where they are available to the public. This key shall be of a tubular, 7 pin, style 137 construction and shall have a bitting code of 6143521 starting at the tab sequenced clockwise as viewed from the barrel end of the key and cutting depths shall be in accordance with Fig. 2.27.8. The key shall be coded “FEO-K1.” The possession of the “FEO-K1” key shall be limited to elevator personnel, emergency personnel, elevator equipment manufacturers, and authorized personnel during checking of Firefighters’ Emergency Operation (see 8.1 and Where provided, a lock box, including its lock and other components, shall conform to the requirements of UL 1037 (see Part 9).



Category: General News

Tags: City of Cleveland, Elevator Key, Enforcement, Fire Code, Fire Department, Fire Marshal, Ohio Fire Code