Campus elevator glitches decrease

Elevator stoppages decreased by 11 percent last year, with 111 cases reported, according to University Police statistics.

Facilities Management officials attribute the fall in stoppages from 123 in 2002 to the modernization of older elevators in buildings as part of a continuing effort to maintain and upgrade facilities.

Last summer, Stockton Hall elevators were outfitted with new controls, doors, car walls and motors, said Walter Gray, director of Facilities Management. Similar repairs will be made to elevators in the International House residence hall and Burns Law Library this summer.

Although a majority of stoppages in 2002 were heavily concentrated in the Academic Center and Gelman Library, disruptions in elevator service were evenly distributed among various University residential and property buildings in 2003.

Facilities Management officials did not identify the elevators that received the most reports of stoppages, but some students cited 1957 E Street and Francis Scott Key Hall lifts as some of the worst at GW.

Gray said the malfunctions at 1957 E Street have been identified and were set to be remedied with replacements last week.

“Sometimes when a piece of new equipment is put into service, there is a period of fine-tuning to make the equipment work as it should,” Gray said.

Failures in FSK are the result of debris being left in the door and doors being knocked off track when residents push or pull them, Gray said.

“The biggest thing students can do to keep elevators running smoothly is to not bump the doors while they are opening, or trying to hold them open when they are closing,” Gray said.

Although University officials said glitches are quickly fixed, some students said they have taken time-consuming trips in elevators.

“I was stuck for about 20 minutes in the basement. UPD and the Fire Department had to get me out,” said sophomore Elizabeth Bagerman, a resident of FSK. “Needless to say, I don’t take elevators any more because I don’t want to get stuck.”

“The elevators are absolutely ridiculous,” said sophomore Lucy Shanahan, another FSK resident. “Usually only one works. They are very inconsistent and it is a continued frustration.”

Other students who have experienced elevator troubles said they appreciated the University’s quick response time.

“I have honestly been stuck about 10 times, and I just wait it out for about 10 minutes,” said senior Thy Nguyen, a resident of 1957 E Street. “They are pretty fast about fixing and repairing things.”

Response time for elevators stoppages during business hours averages 10 minutes, Gray said. Nighttime responses can take up to two hours.

Upon calling in a request to fix an elevator malfunction, mechanics are contacted by the Emergency and Minor Maintenance Office by radio.

Following the repair, mechanics observe and operate the elevator for a minimum of half an hour to ensure that the problem has been properly corrected, Gray said.

The D.C. Fire Department has been contacted “often” to release people from an elevator stuck between floors, said University Police Chief Dolores Stafford.

While the Fire Department has not billed Facilities Management for responses to elevator stoppages, there are still “costs associated with the mobilization” of facilities management staff during the occurrences, Gray said. He declined to specify costs.

No reports of injuries resulting from an elevator stoppage have ever been reported, Stafford said.

In December, Pennsylvania State University student Katherine Ibanez died after falling down an elevator shaft. She was one of seven students on an elevator that stopped between floors.

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