Elevator stoppages are on the rise, with 107 cases of students getting stuck in elevators since January, a 35 percent increase from last year, according to October University Police Department statistics. Facilities Management officials said they are looking to replace elevators in problem buildings but have yet to receive funding.
Project Manager for Facilities Management Tony Jones attributed the increased stoppages to “older, mechanized elevators in GW buildings.” He cited the elevators in the International House as examples of where the “system is dying.”
Jones said Facilities Management has had plans to replace elevators in International House for five years, but the University hasn’t allocated money for the project.
Jones said he hopes GW will “give the go ahead” to replace the elevators this summer.
Elevators are evaluated by Facilities Management to determine which ones need replacement and repair. The department then sends its recommendations to the budget office.
The University is set to replace elevators in Burns Law Library and Stockton Hall this summer.
The Hall on Virginia Avenue and New Hall are leading all residence halls with the most repair calls since January. Officials have made 55 repair calls to HOVA and 47 to New Hall through October, according to Property Management statistics.
HOVA and New Hall face the same problems as older buildings, including wiring repairs, vandalism and overcrowded elevators, said Associate Director for Property Management Courtney Flaherty.
Flaherty said elevators are inspected semi-annually and preventative maintenance is performed on a monthly basis.
Each time GW replaces an elevator it costs $345,000, she said.
She said “elevator replacements are taken into account with all other repairs that are needed within the residence halls.”
Despite efforts to prevent stoppages, students continue to get stuck.
Trapped students are subject to blackouts and sudden drops before being freed by UPD or the D.C. Fire Department, UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said.
She said DCFD is also called if there is a power outage or if students are in danger, and in her 10 years at GW no one has ever gotten hurt.
DCFD responds to any call immediately during business hours and takes 10 to 20 minutes to respond after business hours, Flaherty said. The campus elevator maintenance company then typically responds to assess the problem and begin repairs.
Some students who have encountered problems said they were scared until rescued.
“As the elevator was going down, I heard a loud snap, and the elevator was stuck in between the fourth and fifth floors,” said freshman Dan Bovzuto, who got stuck in a Lafayette Hall elevator two weeks ago.
“We sang nursery rhymes to pass the time,” said freshman Chris Yeazel, who was trapped in Lafayette Hall this year.
Officials said they are trying to improve the system with regular inspections, repairs and replacements when necessary.
All residence halls currently have telephones in the elevators, except for the West End, but the University is “taking steps to install a phone in that elevator,” Flaherty said.