Sunday, April 24, 2016

Retractable ladders – State of Illinois Pit Ladder Mandate

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.

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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

National Association of Elevator Contractors [NAEC] Spring Conference

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.

High lights:

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 and glass.

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 update.

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

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

Sunday, April 3, 2016

City of Chicago – Elevator Fireman’s Service Phase II

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 required
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 level.
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.

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