Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coping with Compliance Costs – What is your community’s plan to pay for Phase II Elevator Fire Safety Implementation?

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?

1 comment:

  1. Since it has been said by the fire department that the fireman do not use the elevators when the building is 6 floors and less when a fire is involved, and since the retrofit involves the majority of elevators in that floor height, why not request an exemption from retrofitting, that would also have to be approved by a vote of the owners. Sort of like what was done with the fire sprinklers….(or bldgs over 75 feet?). Why impose a serious financial burden when for alleged safety reasons, it really isn’t needed. How many instances have there been when the retrofit would have been needed? Has that statistic been gathered and considered? Postponing the work isn’t an acceptable arrangement. Think of the contingent liability and disclosure to a buyer that has to be done when a seller wants to dispose of their condominium. Let’s develop support for an owner approved exemption approach…..it puts any liability issue on the backs of the owners seeking relief. Let's stop more government reulation from runing our lives and ruining our pocketbooks.
    Bob G.