I know this to be true in many (if not all) buildings.
Do the elevators get recalled to the first floor and then become inoperable?
How do the wheelchair bound or others with disabilities get out of taller structures?
Not all of us can run down the steps. I also realize that the elevator could be a death trap if used during a fire. Can the disabled request a Fire Dept. key and activate the elevator if needed?
Yes, the elevators go to the ground floor and stay there until the Super uses their key to operate it.
I think buildings will generally put disabled people on lower floors, or at least disabled people I think would look for a first floor apartment when looking for a place to live.
I think a good property manager will know who would need help getting out in an emergency and attend to them should an emergency arise.
At least in my building, the key is only use-able in the ‘control room’, or in the actual elevator. I’m not sure there is a key someone could put in near the call button on say the 10th floor to call the elevator…well, maybe in modern ones. Our elevators are pretty old.
This was actually an issue in the WTC. There were several heroes who wouldn’t leave differently-abled coworkers behind and either perished with them or carried them to safety. A debate could be had in the GD section about whether this policy of fire safety is a good one.
I used to work for a lawfirm that shared a building with parts of the government’s Department of Employment.
Over one bank holiday weekend they installed in every stairwell “escape devices” for wheelchair bound people. They were like a folding chair with skis joining the front and back legs. According to what we could gather from the pictographic instructions we were supposed to unfold the chair, lift the wheelchair user into it and then surf them down the stairs to safety while hanging onto the handles to prevent them accelerating to dangerous speeds.
Be advised that a lot of modern elevators use touch sensitive/ body heat to activate the buttons on each floor that call the elevator. During my fire career, it was a plus to find the elevators on the lobby floor, saving us from climbing numerous floors with our gear, only to be exhausted when we got to the fire floor. Each member carried an elevator key which allowed us to control the elevator from floor to floor. The key locked out the automatic action of sending you, we’ll say, to the ninth floor when you pressed nine. Being able to control the elevator from floor to floor was also part of firefighting stragedy. You begin your stretch of hose line on the floor below. Fire on nine? Get off at eight and walk up one floor. Not being able to control the elevator floor to floor, the elevator opens on nine (see above re: heat sensitive floor buttons) and if the hallway is on fire or heavily charged with smoke, oh, you are gonna have a bad day.
What you’re describing sounds like you’re hitting the button for the 9th floor and then manually stopping at 8. If you want to get off on the 8th floor, why not just hit the 8th floor button in the elevator? Am I missing something?
Still, in the event of a fire, isn’t there a risk that the elevator’s motor might be damaged, or that electricity might be cut off? It would seem that the stairs would be a lot safer, even for the firemen.
Most current building codes in the U.S. now require that there be an “Area of Refuge” at each floor inside the fire stairwell. It’s usually an extra bit of landing large enough for a wheelchair or two that’s out of the path of travel and equipped with an intercom linked to the master fire alarm control panel. The idea is that people unable to go down the stairs can go there, let the firefighters or building security know they’re there and await assistance in a place of safety (the stairwell’s supposed to be good for 2 to 4 hours of protection).
This is a relatively recent development in the codes, so it probably isn’t that common.
And as usual, buildings aren’t required to retrofit unless they undergo major renovation. The 100+ year old 22 story building I work in doesn’t have sprinklers, nor do the fire stairs meet current standards. It took 9/11 for the building owner to put emergency lighting in the stairs.
Remember I said that some elevator call buttons are heat sensitive. Next time in a modern building, notice that the button does not go in when you touch it. Try this experiment…hold your finger 1/4 inch from the button and you will get the same reaction as if you actually touched it.
Scenerio: you get in an elevator and touch NO button in the cab…If the fourth floor hallway is on fire, the hallway button sences the heat and calls for the elevator to come to the fourth floor. Unlucky you.