Elevators make life more convenient for many people. They also make tall, vertical buildings possible. Few would want to live or work in a 30-story or taller tower, or even a 3-story building, if they had to take the stairs to the top floor. Elevators are also one of the safest ways to move from one location to another. They have numerous built-in features designed to control the speed and movement of the elevator car.
Elevators also have built-in communications systems that provide access to the outside world if need arises. Should an elevator car stop unexpectedly or get stuck, anyone inside of the cab can pick up a phone and connect with an operator who will send help as soon as possible. Monitored elevator phones are important for passenger safety and are required under ASME A17.1/B44 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators.
Choosing the right company to manage elevator monitoring and pick up the phone when a call comes in is vital if you own or manage a building with at least one elevator. This guide covers the basics of elevator monitoring and what to look for in a monitoring company.
The Importance of Elevator Phone Monitoring
What can a person do if they are trapped in an elevator? They shouldn’t try to escape the elevator on their own, as there is too much of a risk of falling or becoming injured. They might not have a cell phone on them, or if they do have one, it might not have enough service to make a call or send a text.
To be up to code, an elevator must have two-way communication installed. The monitoring system needs to be staffed and answered around the clock. If a person in the elevator picks up the phone or presses the call button, another person should be on the other end of the line, whether it is 2 a.m. or 10:30 p.m., a weekday or weekend.
Elevator phone monitoring also gives anyone who uses the elevator peace of mind. When they get into an elevator that has a working monitoring system installed, they can rest assured that the following will happen in an emergency:
- They will reach another person: Under ASME’s Elevator Code and Handbook, two-way communications between the elevator car and a staffed location needs to be provided. When a person in an elevator picks up the emergency phone or presses the call button, they can feel confident that another human will answer the call. The call might redirect to an off-site or third-party location at certain hours, but they will always be able to talk to a live person.
- They can explain the situation: The person in the elevator can explain the situation to the operator on the other end of the line. If the people in the elevator can’t speak or otherwise communicate, the monitoring system should have a caller ID that lets the operator know the building and location of the elevator.
- The right help will be on the way: The operator will explain to those in the elevator what will happen next. A repair technician might be sent out to correct the problem with the elevator. In that case, the operator can tell the people in the car how long it might take for the technician to arrive. If anyone in the elevator is hurt, the operator can send an ambulance or emergency medical personnel.
- The operator can calm the elevator user’s fears: People can panic when they get trapped in an elevator, even for just a few minutes. The operator can help calm people’s fears by letting them know that they are safe in the car. The operator can also provide a supportive, listening ear and connection to the outside world.
Elevator monitoring systems provide an extra level of safety and security to people who ride in elevator cars, but an elevator also needs to have a properly functioning monitoring system to pass inspection. It’s not uncommon for an inspector to push the call button and not say a word. The operator on the other end needs to correctly identify the location of the elevator, including the building it is in. If they can’t do that, the elevator won’t pass inspection.
Importance of Monitoring for Areas of Refuge
An area of refuge is a section of a building where individuals can wait for help and assistance in an emergency. People might need to congregate in the area of refuge because it isn’t safe for them to evacuate the building or because they can’t evacuate on their own. A fire in a hallway might block the way to the exit, for example. People who use wheelchairs or have limited mobility might be unable to use the stairs in an emergency.
Like elevators, areas of refuge also need to have a two-way communications system installed. The system needs to be monitored continuously, meaning someone should be available to answer a call from it 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
Elevator Safety Tips
Along with ensuring that each elevator car has a functioning monitoring system installed, building owners and managers can make elevators safer in other ways for the people who use them.
- Post occupancy limits: Elevators can only hold a certain amount of weight. If a car is overloaded, it might stop between floors and require a technician to get it operating again. Post signs near the entrance of elevators and inside the cars themselves that list how many people can be in the elevator at one time.
- Remind people to take the stairs if there’s a fire: An elevator might not operate if there is a fire in the building. Hang signs reminding people to take the stairs or go to the nearest area of refuge in a fire.
- Install handrails in the elevator: Handrails along the walls of an elevator give people something to hold on to, reducing the chance of falls.
- Post the results of the most recent inspection: Schedule inspections of the elevators in your building at least once per year, if not more frequently. Hang the results of the inspection in the car of the elevator.
- Keep the floors of the cars dry: On snowy or rainy days, the floors of an elevator car can become wet, creating a slip and fall risk. Offer visitors to your building bags to store wet umbrellas and have someone on hand to mop up puddles and wet areas inside each elevator car to reduce the chance of someone slipping.
Why You Need Elevator Monitoring
Installing a two-way communication system in the elevators in your building or buildings does more than ensure that your elevators are following code. Elevator monitoring can also make you and the people who use or live in the building feel more confident about their safety and well-being. A few more reasons why you need elevator monitoring include the following:
- Gives the occupant peace of mind: When someone presses the call button in an elevator car, the call system immediately identifies the location of the car. A caller ID number is connected to each elevator car. The operator responding to the call can see the building the car is in as well as where in the building the car is. If the building has multiple elevator cars, the caller ID number identifies which car is experiencing the trouble.
- Helps you pass inspection: An elevator needs to have a two-way communication system to pass inspection. Although failing inspection doesn’t necessarily mean that the elevator is put out of service or off-limits, it can mean that your building gets fined. Depending on the rules of your area, the fine can be daily until the elevator is brought up to code and passes the inspection.
- Ensures that the right people get contacted: Who needs to know about a malfunctioning elevator in your building? A technician, the building’s owner or manager and in some cases, an emergency medical team. When Towne Monitoring Service receives a call from an elevator car, the most important contact information appears on a computer screen in front of the operator. The operator answering the call can notify the appropriate people based on the situation and the instructions you gave.
- Someone is always there: Depending on the type of building you manage, the front desk might be staffed at all times or only during the workday. But people might use the elevators at all times. With elevator monitoring, you can rest easy knowing that someone will respond to calls for help, no matter who is sitting at the front desk of your building. Additionally, you can feel confident in the knowledge that the person responding to the call from an elevator car has the training and experience needed to effectively dispatch help in an elevator emergency.
- Improves your building’s reputation: Buildings with malfunctioning elevators tend to develop reputations. You don’t want to have people associate your building with tales of entrapment in elevators. Should an elevator get stuck, a properly functioning communication system ensures that anyone inside the elevator can easily reach someone on the outside. They might spend some time in the elevator, but they’ll feel reassured that the situation was handled quickly and efficiently. Anyone who hears the story can breathe easier knowing that someone was available to respond to the need for assistance and fix the issue immediately.
Why Choose Towne Monitoring Service
You can easily set up your elevator’s two-way communication system to automatically dial 911 should someone pick up the phone or press the button in the car. Why bother to have a separate monitoring service, then? While calling 911 is a good idea in a medical emergency or fire, it won’t put the people in the elevator in contact with the right parties if the issue is less critical. Sometimes, all that’s needed is for a technician to come out and fix the malfunction. A monitoring system that only dials 911 also won’t let the building owners or managers know about the issue, at least not immediately.
Towne Monitoring Service goes above and beyond when it comes to keeping your elevators safe. We do more than the average dispatch center, including:
- We offer comprehensive monitoring services: Our operators know how to respond to various situations, from a true medical emergency inside of an elevator car to a simple malfunction. Based on the situation, our operators can send out technicians to make repairs or direct the call to an emergency responder. We will also notify the people you ask us to, such as the manager of the building.
- We know where the elevator is, without anyone saying a word: The second a call comes in from an elevator, we can identify the location of the car and the building it’s in. If the person pushing the button can’t speak, we can still send help.
- Our team is trained: Operators need to stay calm and collected, even in a crisis. They also need to know how to respond to people who might be panicking or anxious. Our operators have all been trained in the best ways to handle the different calls that come in.
- We’re always there for you: Our operators are standing by 365 days a year, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. No matter when the call comes in, a real, live human will pick up.
- Our systems feature built-in redundancies: An elevator monitoring system needs to be up and running at all times to be effective. We understand that uptime is critical so our systems feature redundancies to ensure that the call will always go through and someone will always be available to answer it.
Learn More About Elevator Monitoring Today
The safety and comfort of your building’s visitors or residents are at the top of your mind. If you aren’t happy with the current system you are using for two-way communication in elevators, it’s time to upgrade. To learn more about what sets Towne Monitoring Service elevator monitoring apart from the other options on the market, contact us today. We’re happy to answer your questions and put together an elevator monitoring solution that best meets your needs.