Co-op boards are more likely to repair a leaking roof or paint the lobby than tackle an elevator that needs to be
upgraded. According to elevator expert Al Milo, president of Dunwell Elevator in Brooklyn, which does elevator maintenance, repairs, inspections and installations, this approach is like giving a patient a new hair-do when what he really needs is heart surgery. Similarly, buildings often choose to fix up the elevator cab while they put off the more urgent job of improving the brakes or electrical system.
While elevators are extremely safe machines, with plenty of back-up mechanisms to prevent accidents, residential buildings must adhere to a regular maintenance and inspection schedule mandated by law and comply with a list of requirements that range from posting no smoking signs in elevators to reporting accidents to the New York City Department of Buildings. Substantial fines are levied for violations.
Safe But Not Foolproof
The suspension last April of more than two-thirds of New York City's elevator inspectors following a corruption investigation (see box on page XX) may have created some unease about the safety of the city's elevators, but individuals knowledgeable about elevators say that, so far, there is little cause for concern. I don't think it's an issue, says Dick Koral, director of the Apartment House Institute of New York City Technical College. Elevators are actually the safest things in the world. They have a whole series of safety measures. It's almost impossible to defeat them. The worst thing you can be is stuck.