Expired Elevator Permits Abound

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After increasing pressure from students and staff, state inspectors have begun inspecting UC Berkeley elevators to update their permits.

Working every weekday through the month of December, state inspectors will inspect all elevators on campus.

"It is going to be an extremely thorough inspection," UC Berkeley Spokesperson Ron Cook said yesterday.

Elevators easily accessible to disabled students, such as those in the dormitories, will be checked first. Elevators with the oldest permits will be the next to be inspected.

Cook assured the campus community that the elevators will be checked in a timely manner.

"There was some suggestion that if the state inspectors couldn't get all of the elevators checked in a reasonable amount of time, then they could bring in state-certified inspectors to help out," he said.

He added, however, that he is not sure when inspectors will complete all of the elevator reviews.

"In a single day, we can inspect anywhere from two to five elevators," he said. "There are approximately 214 elevators on campus, and only 54 have current permits. That leaves roughly 160 elevators that need to be inspected."

If while checking the elevators inspectors discover problems that pose danger to students and staff, they will call UC Berkeley staff to repair the problem or will shut the elevator down, according to Cook.

"One of the major issues which would shut down the elevators would be if the support cables had severe separation or if too many strands were broken," he said. "In the last 10 years, only one elevator has had to be shut down."

Cook added that if a student or staff member has a problem with a specific elevator, he would have a mechanic inspect the elevator immediately.

"The mechanics are not actually a part of the school anymore," Cook said. "Sixteen months ago, we hired Amtech Elevator Service as an outside contractor. We had in-house service before that."

The permits on the elevators last for one full year. After that, Cook said the school will pursue an active outlook on renewal.

"The school is now following an aggressive program, which we have implemented immediately," Cook said. "Safeguards are going to be put into place, and we are going to continually attempt to update the permits."

Despite concern on campus, a permit expiration does not mean the elevator is unsafe, he said.

"The campus is aware that the students and staff are paying attention to this issue, and we want to work in a timely manner," Cook said.

ASUC Senator Justin Christensen said he was first worried about elevator permits last year.

"I had a psychology class in Tolman Hall," Christensen said. "I walked into the elevator and saw a permit from 1997, and it frightened me."

While running for the ASUC earlier this year, he said one of his top priorities was elevator inspection.

"Students need to see new permits in the elevators," Christensen said. "It's important for students to see that the ASUC is working for them."

He said he hoped all the elevators on campus will be inspected in a very timely fashion.

"It is my hope that every elevator on campus will be inspected by the end of the year," he said. "But we have yet to see if that will happen."


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