Three Basic Classifications of Elevator I


Consider these facts. There are approximately 600,000 Elevator in the United States, or about 12,000 in each state. There are 120 billion rides on elevators and escalators each year. Out of those 120 billion rides, about 10,000 people end up in an emergency room due to elevator- or escalator-related accidents. These accidents are caused by tripping, by clothing getting caught, by being hit by closing elevator doors or by falling down an elevator shaft when trying to exit a stalled elevator car.

In today’s fire service, elevator emergencies and rescues seem to be out of the normal day to day operations of most fire departments. This type of emergency/rescue is classified as low frequency and high risk. With that being said, we will discuss;the difference between the elevator emergency and the elevator rescue. Think of it this way, if you are in the elevator and it stops, unless there is some type of medical issue or the elevator car is compromised, it is a mere inconvenice to the occupants and not an emergency.

The modern elevator trade has three classifications of elevators. Only the basics of all three will be discussed, as the course is between 24 and 40 hours long, depending on how much rope work the customer needs in the class. These classes usually include escalator emergencies as well.

The oldest, the drum style, is no longer produced but many are still in service. The newer version of the drum style is called the traction elevator. In the trade, it’s termed “roped,” although it’s slang, hemp rope has not been used in decades, current code requires all elevators use steel cables.

Traction elevators are broken into two types, the passenger elevator and the freight elevator. The “new kid on the block” is called the MRL or machine room-less elevator, and this will be discussed later in the article.

The drum elevator operates like a winch. The machine room could be in the basement, thus creating a two to one mechanical advantage, or in the top of the high rise in its own area or machine room.

The electric traction elevator has a counter weight that runs opposite the car that is in the shaftway on its own rail system. The machine room is always above the hoistway on the top floor, or in its own room constructed on the roof.

The gearless traction elevator is similar in design, with a few exceptions, to the components. You will find this system in high rise buildings, usually 20 stories and more, and in most cases these are the “express” cars, as these can reach speeds of 35 mph. They are also referenced as the “blind shaft” elevator and this is where the rope rescue will be needed for the rescue of trapped people.

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