A hoax is being perpetrated on multifamily condo associations and apartment buildings. Very recently, building managers were informed by the State Fire Marshal that elevators had to be upgraded. These upgrades will cost my condo association in excess of $100,000 to “modernize” two elevators in our five-story, 30-unit building. Our final cost could easily be $4,000 per unit. The first of these upgrades must be completed by 2009, the rest by 2011. Non-compliant elevators will be shut down by the state.

Safety concerns are the justification given for these expensive upgrades. However, research on a federal data base shows elevators to be extremely safe conveyances. As a matter of fact, there was not one elevator accident in a condo complex or in an apartment building in
Illinois between 2001 and 2006.

Yes, elevator repair personnel have been killed while working in elevator shafts. Yes, there was an incident of a child being severely injured while playing on top of a car in an elevator shaft. There was also one incident of residents of a nursing home overcome by smoke while in the cab of an elevator. Do these incidents justify such draconian requirements?

The State Fire Marshal reported numerous accidents in elevators and on escalators. However, there is not one study which reports the number of accidents occuring only on elevators. I suspect the fire marshal chose to combine the number of accidents on both conveyances because the number of accidents involving passengers on elevators was nonexistent.

To add insult to injury, the City of
Chicago has been exempt from these requirements. Yes, it’s true. The urban area which probably has as many elevators as the rest of the state combined does not have to upgrade its elevators.  

I call these requirements “The Elevator Companies Welfare Act” because they will reap millions from these regulations. What can ordinary citizens do to stop from being fleeced?

1) Act quickly. Add your voice to those of us who live in
River Forest. Ask your village board trustees to contact the State Fire Marshal and demand that multifamily condos and apartment buildings be exempted from this law.

2) Contact your state senator and state representative and ask them to intercede. If you don’t know their names and phone numbers, you can contact the reference department of your public library.

3) Condo owners and apartment dwellers must individually make an effort to put an end to this sham or be prepared to pay special assessments or increased rents.

Al Popowits

River Forest

Join the discussion on social media!