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Elevator Rescue Operations Class

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Hunter providing information booklets to attendees

Demonstrations of methods for firefighter service operation in elevators

An Elevator Rescue Operations class was held in Orange Beach, Alabama, at the Orange Beach Fire and Rescue Administration building from February 29 to March 2. The class was mirrored all three days and consisted of classroom instruction followed by a hands-on demonstration led by Dan Hunter of Mowrey Elevator Co. Firefighters from the surrounding area gathered at 9:00 a.m. each morning to participate in Hunter’s presentation, which outlined and discussed the steps involved in rescuing passengers from a stalled elevator and covered the basic components of Phase I and Phase II Elevator Firefighter’s Service. According to the presentation, there has been a void in elevator firefighter’s service and rescue training, and as more building owners are required to comply with elevator codes, the need for this type of training has become more apparent.

Hunter began the presentation by introducing himself. He has been a firefighter since 1993, an emergency medical technician since 1994 and, currently, Sales manager for Service and Renovation at Mowrey Elevator in Marianna, Florida. He then gave an overview of the history of elevators, beginning with ancient Egypt and ending with a look to the future. He emphasized not all elevators are the same due to age, design and varying code requirements, possessing different functions and features of which rescue workers should be mindful. Next, Hunter touched on the aspects of elevators firefighters should be familiar with and the role of each during operation, including counterweights, hoistway types, car features, emergency exits, guide rails, door types, interlocks and zone locks.

Focusing primarily on traction elevators due to their prominence in the district, Hunter walked the class through the basics of each phase of fire service, including how to control the elevators and run them from inside the car. He also explained how control panels operate in emergency situations. Attendees noted their area sees a large number of emergency elevator calls, with many cases of stalled cars resulting from strong beachside winds hitting doors and disrupting safety sensors.

Following the presentation, which lasted nearly 2 hr., Hunter led attendees to a nearby beachfront condominium for the hands-on portion of the class. At the 32-story Phoenix West condominium, firefighters boarded the building’s elevators (geared Otis units capable of travel speeds up to 500 fpm with 2:1 roping) and departed for the still-under-construction 29th floor. There, Hunter led the group to the building’s elevator machine room, where he explained the type and function of the equipment housed in the room.

Afterward, Hunter led the firefighters back to the lobby of the 29th floor. At this time, each member of the group was given the opportunity to become acquainted with the elevator hoistway environment. Participants opened the elevator doors using emergency elevator keys and were allowed to stand on the elevator car top to examine the car-top station. This provided the firefighters ample opportunity to familiarize themselves with the technology, with many asking Hunter questions and discussing past experiences. The class dismissed at noon, as scheduled, with attendees expressing their gratitude to Hunter for sharing his time and knowledge.

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