Tue, Aug 22, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Changes to elevator laws urged after mass outage

POWER BANKModern elevators have an uninterrupted power supply so they descend to the nearest floor and the doors open during a power outage or an earthquake

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Architects and engineers on Sunday called for changes to building codes that would require elevators to be linked to emergency generators, after people were stranded in elevators during a massive power blackout on Tuesday last week.

Many people living in apartments and high-rise buildings were stuck in elevators during the power outage and their calls for help nearly overwhelmed emergency services, sources said.

Building codes require that most structures have backup generators or power banks to operate emergency elevators during outages, National Association of Architects president Cheng Yi-ping (鄭宜平) said.

However, the code does not require elevators in residential buildings to have backup power, Cheng said.

Most buildings have emergency power to light public areas, make public announcements and to operate fire detection systems, he said.

Modern elevators are designed to switch to backup power if the main power source is cut, and are programmed to descend to the nearest floor and open the doors in an emergency, Cheng said.

Apartment building management boards should consider installing modern elevators, Cheng added.

Building codes should be examined and changed to require residential buildings with elevators to supply a backup power source and reserve elevators for emergency services personnel, an industry professional said.

Older buildings with limited space should use power banks as an alternative, which typically keep elevators operational for 30 minutes, the source said.

Most modern high-rise buildings have backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies to prevent disruptions, Highwealth Construction deputy general manager Liao Chao-hsiung (廖昭雄) said.

Although those features — long considered industry standard — are not typically advertised by developers, the blackout has increased public awareness and such feature could become selling points, he said.

“If regulations are changed to require emergency generators and an uninterruptible power supply it would not be difficult to make buildings compliant from a developer’s standpoint,” Liao said.

Building managers must maintain backup generators and test them frequently, while aging systems should be replaced, he said.

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