Chicago Firefighter Trapped in Elevator During Rescue

City officials were inspecting the elevators of a Loop high-rise condo building Monday after one man was trapped in two separate cars on the same night.

Firefighters were called to the Park Monroe Condominiums at 65 E. Monroe St. shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday after an elevator stalled between the 21st and 22nd floors with a man aboard, said fire spokesman Kevin McGregor.

A firefighter went up in an elevator, exited through the ceiling hatch to the stalled elevator and got the stranded man in to the second elevator.

Then that elevator stalled, leading to another rescue effort, McGregor said.

"We were working late at night in a dark elevator shaft -- it was dangerous work," McGregor said.

Firefighters considered breaking through a brick wall to enter the elevator shaft and then using ropes to haul both men to safety. But an engineer with Otis Elevator Co. was able to reset the elevator switch from the roof, enabling the elevator cars to be operated manually, McGregor said.

The man and the firefighter both made it to the ground floor without incident. In total, the man had been trapped for more than three hours, fire officials said.

A Park Monroe resident who declined to give his name said the trapped man was a friend of his who was visiting. Reached Monday, the man identified by the resident said he was stuck for about three hours the first time and two hours the second. He declined to give further details.

According to McGregor, the elevators appeared to suffer an electrical problem. The city's Buildings Department was still looking into the cause Monday, a spokeswoman said.

Park Monroe management could not be reached for comment. The building passed annual elevator inspections in 2010 and 2011, according to Caroline Weisser, spokeswoman for the Buildings Department.

The condo building contracts elevator inspections from Elevator Inspection Services, Weisser said. The Burr Ridge-based company is one of several licensed to perform elevator inspections per the city's Annual Inspection Certification Program.

Owners for Elevator Inspection Services could not be reached for comment.

Enacted in 2010, the certification program requires building owners in the city's central business district to hire licensed inspectors to conduct annual elevator inspections and submit the results to the Buildings Department.

Prior to 2010, Buildings Department inspectors were responsible for checking the city's extensive network of elevators. But a 2009 Tribune report found that almost 70 percent of Chicago elevators weren't inspected in 2008, with some having gone seven years without a review.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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