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Vol. LXVI, No. 16
August 1, 2014

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback (two related queries): What’s up (or not) with elevators 13 and 14 in Bldg. 10? First they shut them down for “repairs” last month and ever since they have not shown floor indicators (at all or correctly) like they should. Combine that with the fact that they seem to take their notions on whether or not to actually come when called and those of us stuck on the west side of the F-wing construction deal with daily elevator frustration just to fulfill the mission of NIH.

Is anybody maintaining the elevators in old Bldg. 10? Freight elevator #15 has been out of commission for months. With the finishing up of the F wing, the freight elevator will be needed to help in the moving in of equipment, etc. Elevator #37 is not working in the west tower. Many of the elevators do not have working floor indicators on the inside or outside of the elevators and one in the D section and [one in] the ACRF section don’t have a noise indicator to let you know that the elevator has arrived. In the past, the elevators seemed to be constantly monitored, but now they seem to be ignored. What has changed?

Response from the Office of Research Facilities: ORF sympathizes with employee frustration associated with the elevators in Bldg. 10. There is a regular and vigorous maintenance program for the Bldg. 10 elevators and for all NIH elevators. Elevators (and escalators) are the most complex facilities systems that building occupants interact with. They are designed to default to safe operation over fast or efficient operations—which can sometimes make them frustrating to use and to maintain. Elevator problems often arise from something as simple as running into the elevator doors with a cart, which causes the doors and door safety features to become misaligned. When this occurs, the elevator will shut down rather than operate with doors that potentially do not close completely or correctly.

For elevators 13 and 14, maintenance staff had been experiencing significant issues with software that supports display of elevator locations from inside the elevator cab. Although indicators in hallways functioned properly, corresponding indicators inside several elevator cabs were malfunctioning. Thankfully, a new software upgrade in July resolved the issue and the position indicators should function normally inside and outside the elevators.

Problems with freight elevator 15 were identified during its regular “5-year full load test.” Every 5 years, these tests put the elevator through extreme performance conditions, including a full speed safety stop with the elevator loaded at 25 percent over its stated weight capacity. This is done to ensure that its safety devices function properly. During the test, freight elevator 15 showed specific signs of wear that require us to make repairs. Although we recognize the significant inconvenience to Bldg. 10 occupants, ORF is committed to the safety of everyone who uses elevators at NIH.

Employees and construction personnel can help to improve elevator response times by not selecting the call buttons for both pedestrian and freight elevators simultaneously, then taking whatever elevator arrives first. This common practice leads to delays and “ghost calls” when the second elevator arrives to a floor with no one waiting. This is particularly prevalent in the F wing, where the closure of hallways due to construction limits the number of elevator options. In addition, passenger elevators are specifically designed for the dynamic load of moving people. Freight elevators are designed for moving heavy loads. These design differences make it wiser for people to use passenger elevators unless they are transporting something that necessitates the use of a freight elevator.

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