By Allie Lewis / Published May 2018
You know that you are required to have elevator emergency phones in all elevators at your community via the elevator codes ASME A17.1 and A17.3. What you may not know is that simply having an elevator phone isn’t enough. Your phone must meet certain requirements, both through ASME and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your elevator phones cannot perform particular functions, they will not only fail code and expose you to fines, but, more importantly, your residents may not be able to get help in a time of need. With social media, that kind of news can travel fast. Because of this, it is essential that you regularly test your elevator phones. To make sure your elevator phones meet applicable ASME and ADA codes and can effectively make calls, you will need two people to test the elevator phones simultaneously. See the steps below.
Step One: You may put two elevators in independent service, or you and your helper simply catch a ride on separate elevators. Once each tester is in an elevator, each should activate their elevator phones. (The two phones should be in use at the same time, but pressing the activation buttons at exactly the same time is not necessary.) If the phones meet code, both testers will be talking to an emergency operator. The testers may hear each other as well, but both must have reached an outside number and be able to carry on a two-way conversation with the emergency operator. Remember, both of the phones should be activated at approximately the same time and ultimately be online simultaneously. If anything other than that happens, your phones do not pass the test. There are several issues that cause you to fail this test: only one call goes through; no calls go through, but you can talk to each other; one call connects but is disconnected when the second phone is activated; the phones will not dial out; the calls are completed, but the two parties cannot hear each other; etc.
Step Two: Ask the operator if he or she can identify your location and ask her to give you the phone number from which you are calling. When it comes to ADA compliance, the most important requirement is that the emergency operator answering the call must be able to determine the address and elevator cab number without the caller telling her. If the operators cannot do so, then the phones are not ADA compliant.
Step Three: Finally, using your cell phone or your office phone, call the telephone number(s) associated with the elevator phone that you collected in Step 2 and see what happens. If the phones in the elevators do not ring or automatically answer, your phones are not ADA compliant. ADA requires that you be able to call back to the elevator directly without going through a switchboard or an auto-attendant. If your phones pass this final step, then your phones are code compliant.
Something to remember: even if your elevators have passed their annual elevator inspection, that does not mean that you are in the clear. In most states, elevator inspectors test for conformance with state rules, but they do not necessarily verify ADA compliance as ADA is a federal law. You are responsible for meeting federal accessibility rules, even when there is no agency dedicated to inspecting for such compliance. The best way for you to know that you have met all regulations is to perform the quick steps mentioned above. This way you can rest assured that if any of your residents get stuck or experience some other sort of emergency in an elevator, such as a health emergency, they will have means to access the help that they need.
Kings III offers scheduled automatic testing, which you can read about at www.kingsiii.com/services/lifetime-maintenance/, to customers upon request as an added benefit to our monitoring and maintenance service. While auto-testing alone is not a foolproof method of maintaining code compliance with your elevator communication system, it is a valuable tool to assure you that your elevator emergency phones will be ready whenever they are needed.
Kings III Emergency Communications
Kings III Emergency Communications has been providing complete, compliant, and affordable emergency phone solutions for elevators, poolside, stairwells, parking areas, and more for nearly three decades, monitoring more than 50,000 help phones across the U.S. Our all-inclusive turnkey solution includes equipment, installation, maintenance, and 24/7 monitoring at our very own Emergency Dispatch Center for one low price. Key differentiators include our smart line seizure technology and cellular technologies, both of which eliminate costly dedicated emergency phone lines, and our digital recording and storing of all calls. These valuable benefits coupled with advanced emergency medical dispatch operator training allow us to reduce risk, liability, and costs for our customers. As always, Kings III emergency telephone technologies are designed, manufactured, and supported in the USA. For more information, visit www.kingsiii.com.