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  1. #1
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    Default Elevator Rescue Question

    I have a bit of a dilemma. We have a new building in our town that has an elevator. Only a three story structure but it was built to be ADA compliant so it had to have an elevator. The owners of the building have requested that the Elevator Company provide training to the fire department on the normal and emergency operation of the elevator as well as what steps and procedures need to be followed to perform and elevator rescue in the event the car becomes stuck between floors, doors stuck, etc…

    Here is the strange part… The Company that sold and installed the elevator is refusing to provide the training on the grounds that elevator rescue is too dangerous without a technician from the elevator on-site to supervise/conduct the rescue. It could be as long as an hour for them to respond. Does that sound correct to anyone or does it seem a bit strange?

    Now I know elevator rescue is a fairly specialized set of skills and proper training is absolutely necessary to insure the rescue is done as safely as possible. But like most things we do in the fire service there is generally some amount of risk involved. That is why we train and then train some more.

    Am I wrong to think that with the proper training that elevator rescue can be done safely and correctly by the same people who go into burning buildings, extricate people from mangled automobiles, respond to and mitigate Haz-Mat incidents?

    Since I have only a very limited amount of experience in elevator rescue I would welcome some insight into this from someone who knows, or could explain the rationale behind not wanting to provide the requested training.

    Thanks for any info


  2. #2
    Truckie SPFDRum's Avatar
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    Send me an email or a private message, maybe I can help.
    In the interim, follow the link on my signature to get you started. It's a little out dated, but should give you the basics.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
    George Mason
    Co-author of the Second Amendment
    during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
    Elevator Rescue Information

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    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Send me an email or a private message, maybe I can help.
    In the interim, follow the link on my signature to get you started. It's a little out dated, but should give you the basics.
    I've only run one elevator rescue that was fairly straightforward. I was always taught that if the car doors are anywhere within the landing doors you should crib the gap before evacuating passengers in case the car were to slip while passengers were being removed. Any thoughts on this?
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
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    Thanks for the responses.

    I guess what I am really trying to figure out is why the company will not provide the training we are requesting? Has anyone out there ever run into this?

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    MembersZone Subscriber Golzy12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterk3507 View Post
    Thanks for the responses.

    I guess what I am really trying to figure out is why the company will not provide the training we are requesting? Has anyone out there ever run into this?
    I've spoke with some of the elevator techs around town while we were out on stuck elevator calls, when I ask them about training the fire dept. they all give the same answer, "no way". I was told that no one wants to take on that liability.

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    Truckie SPFDRum's Avatar
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    I've only run one elevator rescue that was fairly straightforward. I was always taught that if the car doors are anywhere within the landing doors you should crib the gap before evacuating passengers in case the car were to slip while passengers were being removed. Any thoughts on this?
    Depending on if it's a traction elevator or a hydraulic.
    Traction elevators use a counter weight that is figured to 40% of the combined weight of the cab and the rated capacity of the elevator. With that in mind, as you remove passengers/weight, the elevator will drift up. The easiest way to safe an elevator is to throw the main. The brake is spring set and will, barring any major failure, will hold very well.
    Once you do this, leave power off.
    Hydraulic elevators use an oil circuit to raise and lower the elevator. The oil is hydraulically locked between the cylinder and control valve. This type will sink if there is a leak in the system, IE vic fitting, packing, or even the valve. For added safety, once power is secured, close the shut of valve that will be located in the equipment room on the oil line.
    The safest way to handle these elevators, and roped hydraulics for that matter is to manually lower them to the buffer stands. Once down, they wont move.

    I've spoke with some of the elevator techs around town while we were out on stuck elevator calls, when I ask them about training the fire dept. they all give the same answer, "no way". I was told that no one wants to take on that liability.
    Having been an elevator mechanic, this is a very true statement. The frivolous lawsuits directed towards elevator companies by idiots that cant walk is staggering. So to encourage basically laymen, to perform elevator extrication is enough to make them run in fright.
    Bottom line, there are true emergencies that require an immediate response, and an extrication. But in my experience, these are few and far between. It is much safer to wait out the elevator mechanic. This is what they do, day in and day out.
    If you do need to, or are going to take on the responsibility to do an elevator rescue:
    Call the service company
    Try to cycle the disconnect and reset the elevator
    Shake the last and nearest hoistway door to ensure they are shut
    Try fire service
    If those don't work and you continue:
    Secure power-once its off, it stays off, period. We do NOT place elevators back in service
    If you open a door, it's your responsibility. If it dont close and lock, making it a fall hazard, you now are on door duty until the elevator company gets there. Maybe longer if you really broke it and the mechanic needs to make a parts run.
    Unless its a life or death situation, there is absolutely no need to use anything other than your standard elevator tools to open the doors. No haligans, axes, pike poles, rotary saws needed. If you are using those, quit and learn how to do it right.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
    George Mason
    Co-author of the Second Amendment
    during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
    Elevator Rescue Information

  7. #7
    Moderator ProgressiveRescue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Depending on if it's a traction elevator or a hydraulic.
    Traction elevators use a counter weight that is figured to 40% of the combined weight of the cab and the rated capacity of the elevator. With that in mind, as you remove passengers/weight, the elevator will drift up. The easiest way to safe an elevator is to throw the main. The brake is spring set and will, barring any major failure, will hold very well.
    Once you do this, leave power off.
    Hydraulic elevators use an oil circuit to raise and lower the elevator. The oil is hydraulically locked between the cylinder and control valve. This type will sink if there is a leak in the system, IE vic fitting, packing, or even the valve. For added safety, once power is secured, close the shut of valve that will be located in the equipment room on the oil line.
    The safest way to handle these elevators, and roped hydraulics for that matter is to manually lower them to the buffer stands. Once down, they wont move.


    Having been an elevator mechanic, this is a very true statement. The frivolous lawsuits directed towards elevator companies by idiots that cant walk is staggering. So to encourage basically laymen, to perform elevator extrication is enough to make them run in fright.
    Bottom line, there are true emergencies that require an immediate response, and an extrication. But in my experience, these are few and far between. It is much safer to wait out the elevator mechanic. This is what they do, day in and day out.
    If you do need to, or are going to take on the responsibility to do an elevator rescue:
    Call the service company
    Try to cycle the disconnect and reset the elevator
    Shake the last and nearest hoistway door to ensure they are shut
    Try fire service
    If those don't work and you continue:
    Secure power-once its off, it stays off, period. We do NOT place elevators back in service
    If you open a door, it's your responsibility. If it dont close and lock, making it a fall hazard, you now are on door duty until the elevator company gets there. Maybe longer if you really broke it and the mechanic needs to make a parts run.
    Unless its a life or death situation, there is absolutely no need to use anything other than your standard elevator tools to open the doors. No haligans, axes, pike poles, rotary saws needed. If you are using those, quit and learn how to do it right.
    I have to agree with SPFDRum. I think what it all boils down to is liability. Because of the dangerous aspect of a rescue such as that I would imagine the company doesn't want to be held responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by "Training" they provided. I've done a few of these jobs and our methods were devised by us. If you think about it a contractor is never going to tell you how to put a fire out in the building he just created because he doesn't have the knowledge to do so nor would he want the liability for anything that happened due to his training. It's one in the same. My advice to you would be if your company is Rope Rescue certified as a unit look at what you have and apply your training and knowledge to develop a rescue action plan for the elevator. I would always talk with the manufacture and or mechanics about the overall mechanical operations of the unit.
    Hope this helps.
    -Mike Donahue-
    "Training Prepares You...For Moments That Define You

  8. #8
    Forum Member st42stephenAFT's Avatar
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    I don't have a whole lot of experience with elevators, but being in a high rise 1st due, I'm slowly gaining experience and knowledge about them daily.

    We were never given any formal training from an elevator company on rescues during the academy. We did get to mess around with elevators at the ele lab in the local metro facility, but that was it. Our training was all in house stuff, and on the job tricks and examples.

    As far as running the call, I haven't ran one yet where we leave someone stuck and wait for the mechanic. We will try the recall, and if that doesn't work, shut the power, lock out tag out if necessary, and then open the doors with either keys or poling. Assist the victims out, and leave the elevator OOS. When turning it back over to the building manager, we have them contact the elevator company for repairs, and leave the elevator out of service until that time.

  9. #9
    Truckie SPFDRum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by st42stephenAFT View Post
    I don't have a whole lot of experience with elevators, but being in a high rise 1st due, I'm slowly gaining experience and knowledge about them daily.

    We were never given any formal training from an elevator company on rescues during the academy. We did get to mess around with elevators at the ele lab in the local metro facility, but that was it. Our training was all in house stuff, and on the job tricks and examples.

    As far as running the call, I haven't ran one yet where we leave someone stuck and wait for the mechanic. We will try the recall, and if that doesn't work, shut the power, lock out tag out if necessary, and then open the doors with either keys or poling. Assist the victims out, and leave the elevator OOS. When turning it back over to the building manager, we have them contact the elevator company for repairs, and leave the elevator out of service until that time.
    Be careful of using lock out tag out. In most cases, the individual that locks out the system is the only one allowed to remove it. Be tough for an elevator company or building to get their elevator back in service and you are on an off, vacation, or between days.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
    George Mason
    Co-author of the Second Amendment
    during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
    Elevator Rescue Information

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    MembersZone Subscriber jfTL41's Avatar
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    Try your local elevator mechanics unions, they can be an excellent resource.

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    Approach the elevator company from a different perspective. You need to know how to use the elevator in FF operator mode, and how to open the outer and inner doors in case the elevator stalls between floors. A three-story elevator should be a hydraulic piston, so really no need to enter the shaft. In addition, even if you tried to come in from the top of the elevator car (via the shaft), you most likely still couldn't get in the car (without significant damage) as modern elvators have lights and mirrors..etc..on the ceilings.

    The elevator company most likely assumes when you say "elevator rescue" that you'll be getting in the shaft. Obviously, they are not in the business to teach you rescue. Rephrase the request into an elevator operation class and go from there....Get some extra keys as well!! Most of the technician's are more than willing to help.

  12. #12
    Forum Member st42stephenAFT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Be careful of using lock out tag out. In most cases, the individual that locks out the system is the only one allowed to remove it. Be tough for an elevator company or building to get their elevator back in service and you are on an off, vacation, or between days.
    That's why I threw the "if necessary" part in there. I haven't seen it done yet, but it was shown to us in Academy, and it's in the SOPs. Most likely, only in the case of a major incident we would use it. Normal operations, we would just have a guy stand by when they kill the power until we're done operating in the elevator shaft. Then have the management company call out their elevator service company for repairs. We'll tell them to leave it OOS, and haven't ran into a problem with that yet.

    And if we were going off duty, we would exchange the key to the oncoming shift with the details, or most likely, pass it off to the Duty Fire Marshal and have them oversee it.

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