ELEVATOR SAFETY RECOVERY OF TRAPPED PASSENGERS

Elevator Safety should be a concern for every property manager.  Elevators occasionally stall with occupants.  Building Maintenance Services should have instructions on how to respond.

It is recommended that any evacuation of passengers from stalled  cars be performed by trained service or emergency personnel, as their experience and expertise assume the resourcefulness necessary to cope with the various complex hazards which may arise.

Most building management teams will find it beneficial to perform the recommend communication functions with the trapped occupants, while waiting for the fire department or elevator service team.

Under emergency conditions, the passenger evacuation of a car within 3 ft. of the landing might be performed by staff personnel who are carefully selected and properly trained.

RESCUE TEAM ORGANIZATION AND TRAINING ORGANIZATION:

Prior to attempting any rescue, it is imperative that the rescue team has the proper tools and equipment ready for use. It is equally important that they be trained in the proper use of the tools and equipment.

Some of the tools and equipment necessary to make a safe rescue are:

A. Short extension ladder

B. Collapsible or folding ladder

C. Hoistway door unlocking devices (elevator door interlock release keys)

D. Two-way radios

E. Safety belts

F. Lifelines

G. Forcible entry tolls

H. Flashlights

TRAINING:

In training maintenance services  personnel, advantage should be taken of the experience and expertise which may be provided by the elevator maintenance organization servicing the equipment.

Rescue drills should be planned to stimulate various emergency conditions and should be conducted to determine the effectiveness of the rescue operation and organization.

Written instructions on the steps to be taken to effect a rescue should be furnished to all personnel designated and trained to perform rescue duties. These instructions should include the telephone numbers of persons or organizations to be contacted for assistance, e.g. fire department and authorized maintenance personnel.

EVACUATION PROCEDURES COMMUNICATION:

Responsible personnel should immediately communicate with the occupants of the stalled car to inform them that:

1. They are safe.

2. Steps are being taken to evacuate them.

3. They should stand clear of doors, since they may be opened.

4. They should refrain from smoking.

B. In communicating with the occupants, the following information should be obtained for guidance in making decisions on actions to be taken in the rescue operation:

1. The number of persons stranded.

2. Whether any of the occupants  are ill or injured.

3. Whether the lights are on.

4. The location  in the hoistway, if known.

The rescue team should verify that these steps have been taken, and while the rescue operation is in progress, the isolated occupants should continually be kept informed and reassured of their safety.

ASSESSMENT OF CONDITIONS:

It is recognized that the preferred safe practice in evacuating passengers is to move the  car to a landing level. The procedures outlined herein do not require the movement  by any means other than normal inspection operation.

Movement  by any other means should only be attempted under the direct supervision of experienced personnel.

Before utilizing any of the procedures, ascertain that the mainline disconnect switch is in the “ON” position (closed) and that the emergency stop switch is in the “RUN” position, not the “STOP” position. If the unit is equipped with firefighters’ service operation, try activating Phase 1 lobby key switch to recall the car to the main floor.

If the stall is due to a loss of power in the building, and the building has a standby or emergency power source equipped to operate the elevators, it may be possible to move the unit by turning the emergency recall switch in the main floor lobby to the “ON” position. Use the manual  standby power selection switch, if provided, to bring the units to the main floor, one by one.

If these methods do not work, determine the position of the unit  and continue with the evacuation procedure that is appropriate to the location:

A. At or near landing (see ‘procedure with car at or near landing’)

B. Within 3 ft. of landing (see ‘procedure with car within 3 ft. . . ‘)

C. More than 3 ft. from landing.

PROCEDURE WITH CAR AT OR NEAR LANDING:

When located at or near a landing, it may be that the hoistway door is unlocked, and the hoistway and car doors can be opened by hand. Under these conditions proceed as follows:

A. Set the mainline disconnect switch  to the “OFF” position.

B. Open the doors by hand.

C. Enter the  car and set the emergency stop switch in the “STOP” position.

D. Assist the passengers in leaving the unit one at a time.  Make sure that the passengers do not trip or fall wile leaving the car.

PROCEDURE WITH CAR WITHIN 3 FEET OF LANDING:

When the hoistway doors are not unlocked and the  platform is within 3 feet of the landing level, the following methods of removing passengers should be used:

Opening doors from landing or from inside elevator -

1. Set the mainline, disconnect switch  in “OFF” position.

2. Unlock the hoistway door at the floor nearest to the stalled car by means of the hoistway door unlocking device (door interlock release key), if provided, and open the doors by hand. If hoistway unlocking devices are not provided, it may be possible on some installations for a passenger to manually open  doors from within the elevator.

3. A member of the rescue party should enter the  car and place the emergency stop switch in the “STOP” position.

4. The passengers should then be assisted to exit, one at a time, by rescue personnel located both in the car and on the landing.

A sturdy stepladder or footstool should be used for safe removal. Precautions should be taken to guard any hoistway opening.

PROCEDURE WITH CAR MORE THAN 3 FT FROM LANDING:

When a car is stalled so that the platform floor is more than 3 ft. above a landing level, it is inadvisable to remove the passengers through the elevator door opening as the excessive distance between the car floor and landing level creates a danger due to the possibility that a passenger may fall into the hoistway.

The recommended methods for removing the passengers under these conditions is through top or side emergency exit, by trained personnel.

RESTORATION OF ELEVATOR SERVICE

The elevator must be restored by certified  personnel, after a thorough maintenance review.

ASTM Standard 17.1 provides formal guidelines for elevator service and safety.

UPDATE

A recent unofficial survey of institutional facility engineers revealed:

*    Most are using staff maintenance personnel, who have received training from the elevator service company, to perform most recovery efforts.

*    Fire Departments in many areas will respond to  provide encouragement and emergency care if necessary, but do not have the expertise for elevator rescue procedures.

*    Some states, CA for example, have building codes that now prohibit anyone other than an elevator technician to open the shaft doors.