New NYC Elevator Signage Regulations

Imagine a firefighter running into a building with a fire on a high floor and he can’t find where it is located.  The same holds for emergency service personnel who are responding to the report of a man with a heart attack.  In both instances seconds can make a difference, says Ira Meister, president and CEO, Matthew Adam Properties, a leading New York property management firm.

Elevator signage helps prevent confusion for firefighters and emergency personnel

To reduce the uncertainty, chaos and lost time, the New York City Department of Buildings and the Fire Department have implemented recommendations from the real estate community that improve elevator signage in residential and commercial buildings. .

“The new regulations help eliminate any confusion for firefighters and other emergency service personnel when responding to a call” says Meister The signage identifies the various elevator banks so responders can more quickly find the bank where assistance is needed.

“This regulation is a good idea,” Meister says.  He explains that the new regulations require buildings to have both a letter and number to designate elevators.  Elevator banks will be identified by a letter and the individual cars by a number. “For example, this makes it easier for firefighters to immediately find the elevator bank where the fire is located,” Meister says.

The signage must be posted at a designated level, usually the street floor that best serves the needs of the firefighters or emergency personnel and then on every floor at all entrance points to the elevator bank.  The lettering must be at least 3 inches high. Also, all elevator equipment will have the same designation.

“This regulation is being enforced and buildings that have not complied to date should do so as soon as possible to avoid receiving a notice of violation,” Meister says.

Buildings Sloppy in Following Elevator Inspection Regulations

Ira Meister, founder and CEO of Matthew Adam Properties, says that when his company is retained to take over management of buildings after a board changed management companies, it has found a disturbing number of properties that are not current with elevator inspections either by not having the inspections conducted, or not filing the proper reports.  “This raises two issues,” Meister says.  “Most importantly, is the need to keep elevators in good working order to prevent accidents.  Secondly, the buildings are subject to fines for not complying.”


Elevator accidents have changed the elevator inspection codes

In recent years, several well-publicized elevator accidents have led the city to rework the elevator inspection codes.  This also followed a report in 2009 from the Department of Buildings which showed lax compliance. Of 50 elevator inspections and tests that were randomly monitored, the department found that 28 of the inspections were performed late, seven were performed by inspectors who lacked the necessary certifications and 19 were not properly documented.  This led to new inspection and testing requirements that went into effect in December 2010.

Under the current code, a basic test must be conducted annually by an approved elevator inspector and witnessed by another company or inspector who is not connected with the company performing the inspection.

“Then, the owner, board or most likely the property manager must file a report with the Department of Buildings with the results. This must be submitted within 45 days of the inspection,” Meister says.  “However, very often the responsible party fails to file the report.”


You have 45 business days to repair defects after filing inspection report

If defects are found requiring repair, the work must be done within 45 business days of filing the initial inspection report.  A final report, saying the repairs have been done, must be filed within 15 business days of completion of the work.

Failure to perform the inspection, or to correct defects once found, can result in fines of $150/month per elevator.  After one year, the fines increase to $3,000.  A “full-load” test is required every five years.  Fines for this are $250/month for failure to perform the test and $150/month for not correcting violations.  After one year the fines increase to $5,000.

“In addition to changes in the inspection requirements,” Meister says, “the new code and recent amendments have added requirements for various safety features in the elevators, which require additional expenses for the owner. “