Failed elevator certificates raise concern

by Xakota Espinoza / Beacon Staff • April 28, 2011

Everyday, when freshman Erin Berry takes the elevator to her room on the twelfth floor of the Little Building, she said she is a little bit terrified. During her first week at Emerson, Berry noticed that the inspection certificate posted inside the elevators read “Failed,” and she has feared a malfunction ever since.

“I live on the twelfth floor, so whenever people get stuck the rescue team always works on it from up on my floor, and it happens all the time,” the performing arts major said. “I am terrified that I will be trapped in an elevator when it is jammed full of people.”

Numerous students have expressed concerns about their safety after seeing “Failed.”

David Haden, director of housing and residence life, said that despite misleading certificates, the elevators have not failed inspection, and are merely in the midst of a two-stage process necessary to pass.

“The first phase is the ‘Annual Inspection’ in which the inspector checks a number of items, including safety switches, machine rooms, and hoist-ways,” Haden said. “Once that stage is completed, we are issued a temporary certificate until the second phase is complete.

Haden explained that some inspectors choose to write “failed” on the temporary certificate until the actual second phase testing takes place. According to Haden, the college has 90 days after the initial inspection to complete the second phase. Haden said the college has applied for the second inspection and is waiting for the Massachusetts Department of Public Safety to provide a date for final inspection.

“The second phase involves inspecting the ‘fire fighter recall’ to make sure the elevators return to a designated floor in case of smoke or fire,” said Haden. “This needs to be completed late at night because all units are taken out of service simultaneously.”

According to Neil Lespasio, director of facilities management, the college is required to apply for the permits on an annual basis, and reiterated Haden’s statement that time of the testing is determined by the State Department of Public Safety, to which the college then plans accordingly.

“Because we have approximately 40 elevators on campus, the inspection process takes place over the course of an entire year,” said Lespasio. “So as we complete one round of inspections, we have begun another round on different units.”

Freshman Mimi Vecchione, who is also a Little Building resident, said she only recently noticed the confusing elevator inspection status, but that she wasn’t surprised when she thought that they had failed.

“My initial reaction [upon seeing the certificate] was laughter because it made so much sense,” the marketing communication major said. “[The elevators] are never clean, they’re very slow, and it takes a while for the machine to register to close a door or go up or down. I wish I didn’t have to take them.”

Despite student qualms with the efficiency of the elevators, Haden said that he is confident there will be no issues.

“We believe that our elevators will pass the inspection when it has been complete,” he said.