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Lee Rigby, Vertical Assessment Associates

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 Lee Rigby is the President of Vertical Assessment Associates, a third-party elevator inspection firm, elevator consultants,  and a licensed continuing education provider for CAM certified property managers. For more information, visit: www.verticalassessment.com

It’s easy for property managers and building owners to become confused by the new safety requirements that govern elevators. Though recent laws and new interpretations of already existing regulations are intended to improve passenger and firefighter safety, compliance is sometimes expensive and complex.

Without getting into details and technical jargon, property managers and building owners should know some things at this point.
·         Elevators installed prior to 1987 that travel over a certain distance and have not been modernized with newer Firefighter’s Service will need to be upgraded. This may require extensive modernization of the elevator and additional requirements. Other retroactive requirements of ASME A17.3 may apply to your elevators.
·         All elevators in each building must have the same version of Firefighter’s Service and all must use the same Firefighters Service key.
·         All elevators in buildings six and more stories must be converted to a specific Uniform Firefighter’s Service keyed switch by October 1, 2009.
·         Generally speaking, an indication that an elevator meets the A17.3 requirements is if the fire keyed switch in the elevator car has a “HOLD” position and there is both a “CALL CANCEL” and a “DOOR CLOSE” button in the car operating panel. However, your elevator maintenance firm or elevator inspector will have to confirm full compliance.  
I’d prefer to not be the bearer of bad news but unfortunately, in some instances, the newly required improvements sometimes set off a chain reaction that requires yet other improvements.
For example, in cases where an elevator controller needs to be replaced or altered, such alterations trigger additional requirements such as system-type automatic fire alarm detection devices in the elevator machine room, elevator lobbies, (and the elevator hoistway if the hoistway has fire sprinklers). In turn, addition of fire detection devices can trigger requirement that the entire building be upgraded to current NFPA-72, National Fire Alarm.
Pending legislation should be followed where it applies to your elevator system. Be aware of possible outcomes that may affect your elevator requirements.
Safety, reliability, and efficiency should be the property manager’s prime concerns regarding elevator equipment. Ensuring that the elevator equipment stays in compliance with current requirements is an ongoing process. Your elevator consultant, elevator code inspector, and elevator maintenance firm should be able to assist you in this endeavor.
To conclude on a positive note, elevators and escalators are the safest form of transportation in the world, moving more people per day than all other forms of transportation combined—with a better safety record.

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