The year 2015 may seem comfortably down the road, but cash-strapped community associations with elevators should already be planning for a pricey big-ticket item: 2015’s Phase II Elevator Fire Safety requirements.
In 2010, legislators passed a measure that requires condominiums and multifamily residential buildings to provide firefighter service for the elevators in an association’s buildings.
The implementation of this service is divided into two phases.
Phase I requires elevators to be recalled to a specific floor and have the doors open if smoke or heat is detected in the lobby or machine room. The elevators remain at the designated floor until authorized personnel make them operable.
Phase II – elevators must have a system that would permit firefighters, exclusively, to control the elevator once “Phase I” is activated in an emergency. Associations may waive the Phase II requirement if the local fire marshal creates a substitute elevator access plan “if it is technically, financially or physically impossible” for the association to comply with the regional access requirements.
The Phase II elevator retrofit costs are significant. The estimates run from hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions. For homeowners already trying to weather community association life in the face of delinquencies, this is a major financial burden.
Interestingly, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation has stated that there have been no reported instances of injury or death in Florida related to the failure or absence of these components in an elevator.
Has your community begun to seek estimates? If so, how much are these changes going to cost?
How is your community going to pay for this upgrade? Do you have funds in your reserves to cover the cost?
It goes without saying, you cannot put a price tag on safety, but would your community prefer to postpone these changes until the financial condition of our economy and communities is a bit sunnier?