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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Going Up (Or Not)

One of the many things that we as firefighters have to know how to do is to respond to an emergency in an elevator. For the most part, all we are going to do as firefighters if people are stuck in an elevator is make sure everyone is ok, make sure the elevator repairman has been called and keep everyone calm. We only get to force our way in if there is an emergency ongoing inside the stuck elevator.

We have several options depending on the type of elevator. Most elevators are piston driven, meaning there is a giant piston underneath that raises and lowers the car. There's no way it's going to fall. The nice thing about this type is that we can go to the hydraulic pump and bleed off the line and slowly lower the car to the next floor. We could also open the doors to the elevator shaft on the floor above the car and use ladders to make entry through the roof hatch. (Did you know there was a roof hatch on most elevators?) We can also use our auto extrication equipment (and equipment off a heavy rescue) to make our own entry into the elevator car. The other type of elevators use cable to suspend the car. These are used in high rise buildings because of the heights involved. Along with the previously stated methods we can make a rescue from an adjoining car. This is very dangerous and left as a last resort.

Escalators are another thing with which we have to deal. If someone were to get stuck we would shut off the escalator (shut off switches are located at the top and bottom of escalators). We would then dismantle whatever we needed to to get our victim free.

I found this clip while researching elevators and escalators. I thought it worthy of sharing.

One of the "extra" things that I did learn was how to keep an elevator from stopping for other people while traveling from your floor to your desired floor. Simply press and hold the close door button and the button for the floor on which you wish to go for 5 seconds. I haven't tried it but I saw it on YouTube (which means it must be true, right?). If you have a tall building and feel like trying it out let me know how it goes. Next time I'm in one I'll try it.
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