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April 7, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: Elevator up button

Matthew Haughey writes:

This is a blurry shot of the first elevator control panel you'll find in the lobby of the new Hilton, next to the Austin Convention Center in Texas. This is on the first floor of a 28 floor hotel.

If you hit the top button, you'll set off the fire alarm and call the local fire department. The bottom button is used to go up to your hotel room. I wonder how many times people instinctively hit the top button, thinking it is the "up" button. They should get this very public and key component right.


This Is NOT Broken...

The "top button" is neither a button nor does it set off the alarm and call the local fire department. The top part of the instructions are...



To recall elevators

Insert fire key

and turn to 'ON'

Posted by: shep mckee at April 7, 2004 01:41 AM

I see a keyswitch and two buttons.

The top button is indeed an alarm button.

(This is broken -- I've seen hundreds of fire-service keyswitches on call panels, but never an alarm button outside the elevator car itself, where it belongs.)

Posted by: Anonymous at April 7, 2004 01:52 AM

Looks like a button to me, too. And it's just below a keyhole.

Posted by: Scott Johnson at April 9, 2004 05:04 PM

what's so funny is that they could have solved the problem by simply placing a lot more space between the top and lower button.

Posted by: Eric at April 9, 2004 08:46 PM


topfloorbutton {

padding-top: 6inches;


But then IE would have issues, so fortunately Microsoft doesn't make elevators...

Posted by: RIch at April 10, 2004 04:29 PM

How exactly does this work anyway? Does everyone have their hotel room on the same floor? Or do they put in a keycard that reads off the floor information?

Posted by: never mind that at April 11, 2004 12:56 AM

never mind that: If I understand properly, this is on the *outside* of the elevator.

Posted by: codeman38 at April 11, 2004 01:01 PM

I was at this hotel for the IA Summit for 4 days - went up and down in the elevators several times a day - not only did I not have a problem with this, I didn't even notice the issue until I saw it here. Now - is that broken?

Posted by: Richard Dalton at April 12, 2004 08:56 AM

And the firefighter's hat on the button looks like an up-arrow at first glance. Lovely.

Doesn't an engineer have to look at something like this before it gets used?

Posted by: Michael Z. at April 13, 2004 06:19 PM

If Microsoft made elevators, would anyone be brave enough to use them?

Posted by: Alden Bates at April 20, 2004 08:45 PM


Not broken.

The elevator is set up to go to the first floor if the fire alarm is set off, and stay there.

The fire service keyswitch is used by the fire department to operate the elevator once they get there.

Posted by: Cowthief at May 16, 2004 02:52 PM

this is actually NOT broken!

The fire "button" is not actually a button since this is located outside the elevator. This is just an indicator light. If the building's fire alarm is set off, this indicator will illuminate indicating that the elevator is out of service due to a fire. Occupants of the building will not be able to use the elevator to escape, and will need to use the stairs. In order to use the elevator, a fireman will need to place a key in the above lock switch and follow the instructions printed on the panel.

Posted by: Steven W at July 1, 2004 10:29 PM

Steve is correct.

Posted by: G. Kess. at August 30, 2004 07:19 PM

No... a small button like that would NEVER set off the fire alarm. Of course, that is if that is even a button, and not just a light like somebody else said. Go push that thing as much as you want, it's not going to set off any alarms unless it plainly says that it will.

Posted by: Harrison at January 29, 2005 01:03 AM

the top seems to be a fireman's control. This will isolate landing buttons so only the car buttons can be used.

The next button maybe an intercom button to communicate with the car from the exit floor landing.

The bottom button calls the lift. you then use the floor button in the car to go to the floor.

Posted by: shaun at April 26, 2005 06:36 AM

At my university, we have one elevator (fairly new installation) that has a similar indicator along with fire service key about 7 feet above the floor (basically where you sometimes see the up/down latterns).

Posted by: Brian at July 24, 2005 02:10 PM

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