We are on the downward slope of the pit ladder mandates by
the State of Illinois. We have touched
on pit ladders quite a bit on the blog but we will talk about retractable pit
ladders. Many pit environments require a
retractable pit ladder, it is my opinion that you should do everything you can
to not put a retractable pit ladder in.
I say this because I have asked quite a few elevator professionals if
they will ever use a retractable pit ladder to access the pit. The only answer I get is “no”. But in some environments we cannot get away
from using a retractable pit ladder because there are significant clearance
issues to put a rigid ladder in.
I have found 3 sources of retractable pit ladders, each
have their strengths and weaknesses. One
is robust but sticks out 3 plus inches off the wall. One is low profile but not
as sturdy as the other two. The 3rd
ladder is somewhere in between. So there is always the question of which
retractable pit ladder is the best to use in each environment.
We just installed a Wurtec retractable pit ladder in at a
location that had clearance restrictions.
I understand the code and concerns about elevator pit
ladders. At times I believe we put in devices that will not assist the elevator
professional but will comply with the code. I think there could be a better way. We have applied for variances on pit ladders and all of the inspection
firms and municipalities have been reasonable with the requests. If you haven’t done your elevator pit ladder
yet and your vendor is recommending a retractable pit ladder, talk to them
about other options. There is a place
for these devices but if you can avoid putting in devices that may never get
used that would be my suggestion. A
retractable pit ladder is also significantly more expensive which is a
secondary concern because safety does not have a cost associated to it. If building owners, elevator contractors,
inspectors and municipalities work together we can install the safest and most
appropriate device for each elevator pit.
Last weekend/week was the NAEC spring conference is
Savannah Georgia. The NAEC is the
largest association in North American of contractors, suppliers, consultants and other professionals. Any time I go to a convention or conference I get charged up and overwhelmed because there is so much any company should be doing to improve their practices. We all have lots of work to do and these events remind us that we need to get to work on improving our practices and the safety of everyone in the elevator industry.
Friday April 8th to Tuesday April 12th
was packed full of seminars, round tables and discussions on the elevator
industry. There was a few receptions along the way as well.
The contractor session started off the educational program
with talking about MRL’s and California taking the lead by giving very strict
guide lines on acceptable equipment.
Most MRL’s are not allowed to be installed in California right now. There is one OEM that has equipment that
meets the Californian requirements. The
MCP was also discussed in the session which it appears that everyone is not on
the same page on what the MCP is supposed to be.
Draka gave a presentation on fiber optic cables and how to
splice them in connectors to work with CAT 5/CAT 6 cables. An elevator guy even got to try to do this, if
you are going to do this, you will need glasses, these cables are very small
There was an “open mic” session where a bunch of us got
together and talked about different items in the elevator industry a big item
is the 3 by 5 rule for residential elevators as well as general liability and
what correct maintenance is. I enjoyed this session as it was a good mix of consultants, contractors and res lift companies. It was good to get other peoples perspectives.
There was a great presentation on ASME A17.4 – Guide for
emergency personnel by a elevator consultant/expert witness. This document should be in all machine rooms
and Fireman should assist in the elevator portion of any extraction. We all know this does not occur. Elevator personnel should not help the
fireman remove people only in spotting the elevator and opening the doors. This was a great presentation.
EECO valve gave a presentation on adjusting their valve
Round tables – There were eight all together I went to the
OSHA orientation session, six deadly safety points, and employment insurance
Lots of good information presented at this
conference. I met elevator contractors,
suppliers and AHJs at the event. It is
good to be able to talk to fellow contractors and AHJ’s to see what they are
doing and perhaps get some good information to bring home to your company.
Next NAEC event is their United Convention in Montreal
Canada where Americans and Canadians will share the stage and best practices
and equipment September 7th – September 16th. For more information go to NAEC.org
There has been discussion about what the mandate will be
for Elevator Fireman’s Service Phase II on 1/1/17. Please find some baseline information that is
being worked on at the City of Chicago level.
This is not 100% yet but will be the framework for the required
updates. Please note that this is only
for buildings with Fireman’s Service Phase II, if the building does not have
Phase II these requirements will not apply.
This is only for buildings in the City of Chicago.
Here are a list of items that may be the template
1.A permit will be required to complete
the work that will be required.
2.This work can be completed without
updating to a later code
3.Automatic recall of elevators is not
4.When the Phase II switch is turned to
the OFF position and the door open button is released, the doors will close and
the elevator will revert to Phase I operation and will return to the designated
5.The elevator shall have a
Firefighters’ Jewel in the car station.
The jewel does not have to be a Fire Hat if it was not required at the
time of the installation.
6.The elevator shall have an audible
signal in the car station for Firefighters Emergency Operation.
7.The elevator shall have a Car Call
Cancel push button in the car station.
8.Elevators at the designated level not
on Phase II Operation shall return to group operation when the Phase I switch
is turned OFF.
9.Elevators not at a designated level
when the Phase I switch is turned OFF shall return to the designated level
before they can return to group operation.
10.The keying may remain. FEO-K1 key
switches are not required
11.The Elevator Control Panel/Lobby
Panel may remain. There is no
requirement to provide or updated existing panels.
12.Composite jewel/pushbutton is not
permitted. A separate jewel and a
separate Car Call Cancel pushbutton shall be provided.
This panel has a jewel[top right], key switch[top center], call cancel[top left]
More information to come on the PHASE II requirements for
Fire Fighters Service. This is a work in
process but Buildings in the City of Chicago should be reviewing possible plans
of actions as the time line is still 1/1/17.
Many buildings can do software changes, many buildings can do add on
panels, some buildings may need to replace elevator controllers.