Sunday, March 19, 2017

Elevator Fireman’s automatic recall and Fireman’s service Phase I & II [FEO]

We have been getting more and more questions about FEO[Firefighters emergency operation].  I wanted to put a better posting together to show the different items that encompass FEO.  For this purpose it is to explain what fire equipment is needed for modernization of a control system.


Fireman’s service phase I – This is the key switch on the main floor that will recall the elevator to the floor.  The intention is to bring the elevator to the main landing to give access to the elevator to emergency personnel.  This key switch is provided by the elevator contractor during a modernization.

Fireman’s service phase II – This is the key switch in the elevator that when initiated will allow emergency personnel to use the elevator.  All hall calls are disabled, the elevator can only be operated from the car station inside the elevator.

Automatic recall – This is when the elevator is hooked to smoke detectors.  When a fire detector goes off the elevator will “recall” to the appropriate floor.  I.E. if the main lobby fire recall detector goes off the elevator will “recall” away from the main lobby floor and stay there with the doors open, no one can call or use the elevator[with exception of emergency personnel].  If a fire recall detector goes off on the 7th floor the elevator would “recall” to the main landing and stay there with the doors open, no one can call or use the elevator.

What fire equipment does the fire control company need?

1.    Fire recall detector at each landing
2.    Fire recall detector in the machine room
3.    Relays in the elevator machine room
4.    Annunciator somewhere in the building[look for direction from the fire panel company]
5.    If you have sprinklers in the machine room you will need a heat detector and shunt trip
6.    If you have sprinklers in the hoistway you will need a heat detector, if you have a heat detector you need a smoke detector.  If you have a heat detector you will need a shunt trip.

[Fire detector outside of each hoist way entrance]

[Phase I key switch in hall way - This is a City of Chicago location in door frame]

[Phase II operation with closed door]

[Phase II operation with open door showing fire controls]

[Fire relays in machine room - Provided by fire control panel company]

[On left fire control panel provided by fire control panel company]

*In the City of Chicago, it has been permitted in the past to be hooked to sprinkler flow switches.

Guidance form AHJ[Authority Having Jurisdiction] – If you live in AHJ that is open to giving direction I would recommend having your fire panel company get information on what they need to do from them.  At times the AHJ will require additional work, strobes and pull stations.  Any additional scope of work is up to the AHJ’s Fire Prevention Bureau as they have authority on this item.  Get the AHJ’s requirements in writing!  You don’t want any surprises after you start the elevator project because a new Fire Chief starts and doesn’t know the conversation you had with the previous Fire Chief.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Chicago Elevator Modernization – Machine modernization

I was blown away by the look of the machine room after we completed the elevator modernization.  The final touches took a little bit of extra time but everything turned out very nice.  This was a project where we replaced the controllers, motors, cables, governors, fixtures, door equipment[including tracks], and installed a fire panel.  

This is a project that had more than 12 people work on it from start to finish between selling it, engineering it, delivery, accounting, project management, installation and adjusting.  1 or 2 people do not make a project go well, an entire team makes a project go well.  I'm proud to have been one part of this project.

More pictures of the full project to come. 



If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Chicago Fireman’s Service [FEO] Phase II Elevator mandate - 3/5/17 update

We are a few months in to the mandate and there seems to be some general confusion with the technical end and trigger end[who is the trigger – Inspector or Elevator Contractor] on the mandate. 

What we know

1.    FEO phase II mandated was adopted on 11/2/16
2.    Mandate is due on 1/1/17
3.    City list is below of expectation on how Fireman’s Emergency Operation is to operate

I spoke to some other contractors and inspectors about the requirements and they didn’t seem clear on who was supposed to be failing the elevators.  Contractors say it is the Inspectors job and Inspectors say it is the Contractors job.  Both are probably correct.  If an inspector sees visually the elevator does not comply it should not pass the inspection, if the inspector exercises FEO and sees it does not pass, it should not pass.  The big question is if the contractor is completing a CAT 1 test, should the elevator pass the FEO portion of the CAT 1 if it is not compliant with the mandate?  The elevator works as it has since it was installed and accepted, but, the elevators phase II is not compliant with the mandate, mandate was in play on 1/1/17.

Big question for elevator personnel – Is the inspector the trigger during his inspection?  Is the contractor the trigger when they do the CAT 1 testing?  Or are they both the trigger?

Big question for building owners – If you do not know anything about this, get in touch with your elevator maintenance provider.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Elevator U – Conference 6/19/17 to 6/22/17 University of Virginia

Every year there is a conference that many Universities and Colleges get together and talk about their elevators called Elevator U.  This year it is at University of Virginia 6/19/17-6/22/17. If you are a college or university I would recommend getting involved. I have taken some information from their website for a quick preview.  An institution should be aware of some of the pit falls of maintenance, modernization, proprietary equipment, new equipment design[MRLs], these items are discussed at their conference.

Elevator U's Mission/Purpose Statement
“There is a need for colleges, universities, government agencies and public institutions to have an organized vehicle to promote excellence in design, construction and maintenance of all forms of vertical transportation. ELEVATOR U is a voluntary association of individuals the purposes of which are exclusively charitable and educational.

As technologies, materials and business practices continually change, we need to ensure we have an organization to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and technical expertise to properly build and maintain vertical transportation that is safe, durable and efficient.

§  To create a forum where stewards of vertical transportation systems can exchange ideas and information.
§  To accumulate technical information and make it easily accessible to members.
§  To provide information and education for the benefit of the elevator industry.
§  To provide a regular opportunity for gathering to share fellowship, information and education.
§  To acquire means to reinvest in the charitable and educational interest of ELEVATOR U.

The purpose of ELEVATOR U is to provide a medium at the national level for advancement of the objectives of the Organization, to promote closer relations and cooperation among the professions, contractors, manufacturers, trade associations and societies which are engaged in, or directly connected with, the vertical transportation industry.”

Our History
At the 2006 VTCCU (Vertical Transportation Conference for Colleges and Universities) the decision was made to formally organize and operate as a nonprofit corporation chartered in the state of Georgia. The group voted to change the name of the organization to Elevator U. The elected officers and directors are: Terri Flint (University of Michigan) president, Ed Jaskowak (Penn State University), vice president; Marty Waterfill (Georgia State University), secretary/treasurer; Patty Erickson (University of Minnesota), director; John Blatt (John W. Blatt Elevator Consulting, Inc.), director; and Glenn Duncan (Parts Specialists, Inc.), director.

We recognized a need for colleges, universities, government agencies and public institutions to have an organized vehicle to promote excellence in design, construction and maintenance for all forms of vertical transportation.

We believe working with all sectors of the elevator industry is the best way to accomplish the objectives and goals of Elevator U. We all bring different experiences and knowledge to the industry and must share it for the sake of the safety of the riding public.

Many times universities and government agencies are unable to take advantage of the other vehicles that exist in our industry for the exchange of information due to strict and tight budgets; many being required to choose only one convention or conference to attend annually. In the interest of providing the most diverse and widely experienced individuals possible; Membership to Elevator U is open to all sectors of the industry; including consultants, manufactures and contractors.
Location History for Past Conferences
§  2016 – Illinois State University
§  2015 – The Ohio State University
§  2014 – University of Nebraska
§  2013 – Iowa State University
§  2012 – Michigan State University
§  2011 – Penn State University
§  2010 – Purdue University
§  2009 – University of Illinois – Champaign, Urbana – Quincy, IL
§  2008 – Arizona State
§  2007 – University of Maryland
§  2006 – Georgia State
§  2005 – Georgia State
§  2004 – University of Michigan
§  2003 – University of Michigan
§  2002 – Purdue University
§  2001 – University of Michigan
§  2000 – University of Michigan
§  1999 – Purdue University
§  1998 – Purdue University

While Colley Elevator is not a part of ElevatorU I am a big proponent of the organization and can put you in touch with one of the directors if you want more information.  You can also get the contact information off their website.  As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Chicago elevator maintenance & FEO – Help!

We got a call about 6 months ago from a building that wouldn’t get a phone call from their current elevator maintenance vendor and needed someone today.  Of course it was a Friday and the person’s route it was on was on vacation.  We pulled someone else over there to complete a routine repair.   Over the last six months we have kept in contact with the building and they had been fairly ghostly [responding every once in a while, they are in an existing contract].  Recently the building got in touch with us and said they have a few violations.  We went there and it was typical City of Chicago violations

1.    Door restrictor not working
2.    Appendix O “in case of fire” signs needed
3.    Floor lockout is active on FEO phase II

We did a site survey and found what you are more and more commonly finding on the Intergalactic company’s maintenance jobs.  No maintenance or poor maintenance.  We ran down to the machine room and heard a familiar rumble.

[both sides of car are in similar shape]

We looked in the controller and found a jumper.  In the mechanic’s defense, he was just at the building and perhaps he needed parts…

The violations where all legitimate and not unusual, old Adams Hatch Latch that needs to be replaced, signs are a new item, lockout probably never has been noticed for years and years[the lockout that had been used looked as if it was installed by a company who has been out of business for 15 years].

The stinger of the whole thing is that this building most likely will need to replace their controller because of the City of Chicago Fireman’s Emergency Operation[FEO].  Violations where written on 12/16/16, mandate went live on 1/1/17.  Once the violations are fixed and re-inspected they essentially fail the FEO test.

[No flashing hat, no call cancel, did not check protocol on other mandated items]

Take away – Keep up to date when your contract is up, get a maintenance service provider you are comfortable with and will communicate with you.  We[elevator contractors] may not always tell you things you want to hear but there should be someone at the other end of the phone to explain to you what is going on in a timely manner.  Most importantly make sure you know what you are paying for; once a month, once a quarter, full coverage, etc.  And make sure you are up to date on new mandates that are occurring that may impact your building.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Private residence lift accidents

On February 1st, 2017 there was another private home elevator accident in Little Rock Arkansas.  A 2 year old got trapped underneath a home elevator.  There have been new rules/code items that have come out to prevent some of the recent accidents from occurring. Part of the problem we have with private residence elevators is that they do not need to get inspected after they are installed.  This means once a private home elevator is installed there is no oversight or requirements by any jurisdiction to ensure it is maintained and in safe working order.  There is no direct way for the homeowner to be made aware of new mandates, safety items, or regulations that could improve the level of safety of the home elevator.

I have made a time table of a typical home with a private residence lift

Day 1 - Private residence elevator is installed
Day 2 - Private residence elevator is inspected
4 years later - Home is sold
Company who installed lift goes out of business or is sold
10 years later - Home is sold
Manufacturer who sold the lift to the elevator company is out of business or sold
3 year later – Home is sold

It has been the responsibility of the manufacturer and installing company to notify the homeowner of mandates, safety items or other regulations.  But as we see above with the given scenario it would be very difficult for this information to get to the 3rd or 4th homeowner.  Home lift manufacturers go out of business, elevator contractors who install these go out of business, homes are bought and sold. 

There are many responsible elevator companies who install these lifts and maintain them.  And most of the accidents are not the responsibility of the installer or the manufacturer.  The question is how to prevent them from occurring in the future.  My gut recommendation would be to mandate AHJ inspections of all home elevators by a Qualified Elevator Inspector once a year and require a maintenance program with a licensed elevator contractor.  This way we would have positive information flow to the end user for mandates, safety items or other regulations. Regular inspections would also allow to resolve any safety or usage items that have developed.  Homeowner education is key.

My experience - I went to a building on a buy/sell inspection and the lifts gate was damaged so the lead wood fold panel of it was stuck in the closed position[it was a wood fold gate] and the other part was retracted or missing.  The elevator was essentially running with barrier between the lift and the hoistway.  The realtor told me that the lift was in good working order before I had gotten there.  The new owner replaced the lift after my recommendation but a good question to ask is how many other lifts are out there like this and how long have they been running like this?

[Lift hoistway = CAT 5 raceway? - who ran this?]

After an accident, there are a series of law suits, money changes hands, but the loss will never be resolved monetarily.  No one likes being told what to do in their own home but if there is a dangerous device running there needs to be a process to identify these and either make them safe or decommission them.

Good resource - which is the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation. 

There was also another resource available that was created after another accident that was a part of the settlement.  XYZ company had to form a resource to help prevent future accidents for X amount of years.  Well... X amount of years has elapsed and XYZ company abandoned it because their legal obligation was completed.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Elevator hoist way & pit access – Elevator personnel only – State of Illinois

This is a reminder to everyone that the State of Illinois prohibits anyone that does not meet “Elevator Personnel” from accessing elevator hoist ways & pits.

[State of Illinois document - this is the law]

Elevator Personnel – A person having documented training or experience or both and be familiar with the operation and safety functions of the components and equipment. Training and experience may include recognizing the safety hazards and performing the procedures to which they are assigned in conformance with the requirements of the relevant building code.  As outlined in 17.1. 

If your building requires fire testing with devices in the hoist way, a plumber that needs access to the sump, a mason or any other trade that does not meet the requirement of “Elevator Personnel” they shall not have access to the hoist way. 

There have been several accidents and fatalities with non elevator personnel accessing elevator hoist ways.  Take the time to call your elevator service provider and have them assist you in getting in and out of the elevator hoist way safely.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.