Police records show there were 16 calls to the George Mason Police Department reporting people trapped in elevators on campus Aug. 27-Sept. 20.

That number is five times higher than what Quality Elevator Co. officials say they usually get. Quality Elevator Co. is in charge of the maintenance of a majority of the elevators on campus.


Lt. Jim Jeckell, a fireman with the city of Fairfax who has responded to calls about stuck elevators on campus, has the following tips for students in the case that they get stuck:

  1. Press the call button, and wait to talk to the Customer Service Center.
  2. If no one answers the call button, use your cell phone to call 911. Try to give specific information as to the location of the elevator and floor you might be on.
  3. If you do not have a cell phone, press the alarm button on the elevator to attract attention. It sounds like a fire alarm.
  4. Under no circumstances should you try to force open the elevator doors and attempt to exit the elevator on your own. Nor should people try to open the hatch.
  5. No untrained person should try to force open the elevator doors from the outside and attempt to rescue people stuck in elevators.

Jeckell stressed that people stuck in elevators should just stay in there and try to be patient until they are rescued.

“We don’t want you coming out of that car,” Jeckell said. He said it is much more dangerous to try and exit an elevator when it is stuck than it is to be trapped in it. He said an injury can occur if a person is trying to exit the elevator and the elevator starts moving again.

“Make the call. We’ll get you out,” Jeckell said.

Tammy Wright, a certified elevator inspector with Quality Elevator Co. said that the first weeks of school do tend to coincide with a higher number of service calls because of students moving in to the dorms and carrying furniture on the elevators.

Wright said that it is hard to give an average of how many calls they get regarding people stuck in elevators on campus, but she said three calls a month is “normal,” and that legitimate calls, where they actually find someone stuck in an elevator when they arrive, are even fewer.

Jessica Chung, a sophomore communication major at Mason said she was stuck in one of the elevators at the Johnson Center for about five minutes before the elevator started working on its own.

Chung questions how good the maintenance is on the elevators, but said she still feels elevators on campus are safe.

“Now I just don’t get on that elevator anymore,” she said in an e-mail.

Wright said that in addition to semiannual and annual inspections required by the state, visual inspections on the elevators are done on a monthly and quarterly basis.

All service calls that the company receives from the university are looked at, she said. The company also maintains one technician on-site at Mason eight hours during the working day. Other technicians are on call 24-7.

There was another recent incident at the Hampton Roads dorms, in which students had to be rescued by the fire department from an elevator, but a check of campus elevator maintenance records provided by Facilities Management show that elevators on campus are up to date on their annual inspection.

Christy Hogan, a project engineer with Facilities Management, made inspection records available to Broadside. Not all the records for the campus elevators were available, however, because some of the campus elevators are so new that they have not yet been turned over by the construction company to Facilities Management, campus officials said.

The Hampton Roads elevators have not yet been turned over to Facilities Management, but a check of one of the elevators in the dorm shows an up-to-date inspection is posted inside the elevator.

Although Virginia code says that certificates of inspections must be posted in or near the elevator, Mason officials say that most of the ones on campus are not kept in the elevators because of fear of vandalism.

The code allows for the records to be made available to the public at the building operators’ office.

Commerce I, located on University Boulevard, has a certificate of compliance on file with the expiration date of Dec. 31.

However, Tara Anderson, a permit technician with the City of Fairfax, said that the last record of an inspection for the Commerce I elevator is from 2008.

A person who answered the phone at the National Elevator Inspection Services said that they hold the contract for the inspections at the Commerce I building and that the inspection was indeed past due.

However, the records provided by Hogan show that American Elevator Inspection Services, Inc. conducted an inspection of the Commerce I elevator in 2009.

As of Friday morning the city of Fairfax did not have that record.

Both NEIS and AEIS are independent elevator inspection companies who perform inspections for elevators on campus but are not associated with Quality Elevator Co., of Bladensburg, Md., who performs the maintenance for most of the campus elevators.