Expired permits urge students to consider stairs
May 13, 2009 9:15 PM
Laurel Wilke's morning commute to campus is hectic. It's rife with reckless student drivers and wandering pedestrians caught in the hustle and bustle of another weekday morning at SF State.
The most dangerous part of Wilke's commute, however, will not take place on the wild streets near campus. The real peril, she says, lies within the buildings themselves.
"The last thing I want to worry about as I rush to class in the morning is 'Gee I sure hope the elevator works," said Wilke, a 20-year-old nursing student at SF State. "Usually I'll just take the stairs."
Wilke is just one of hundreds of students whose perceive danger each time they board a campus elevator. But according to Ellen Griffin, spokesperson of SF State, there is no risk and the elevators are up-to-date.
"We are allowed to keep one centralized permit on campus," said Griffin.
All on-campus residential building elevators on campus (Mary Park Hall, Mary Ward Hall, the Village, and the Towers at Centennial Square) display permits expired by more than a year.
Elevators in Humanities, HSS, Burk Hall, Hensil Hall, Student Student Services, Creative Arts, and Fine Arts all contain expired permits.
Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), the party responsible for ensuring the safety of elevators in California, is contracted by the university to check elevator systems once a year.
"It was assigned to our elevator safety engineers on January 20, 2009, but there has been a lot of changes," said Mae Marcaida, an employee of DIR. "They've been reassigned several times at different locations."
Marcaida says the permits should be up to date but was unsure of why the permits themselves were not visibly presented inside the elevators.
But one DIR engineer believes SF State is at fault for neglecting to display current elevator permits.
"Once we issue the permits we issue them to the responsible party and its up to somebody on campus to post them in the car," said one elevator safety engineer who asked not to be named. "So it's not always the clearest reflection of whether the permit's expired or not."
According to DIR account records, campus maintenance is responsible for swapping out expired permits. The name on the account is Mike Curran, SF State's customer service supervisor for Facilities and Service Enterprises.
Curran says the elevators are not expired, and maintains they are routinely inspected and are considered safe by campus elevator mechanics.
The permits were withheld by DIR because payment of about $10,000 for campus-wide elevator inspection was never received.
Curran's accounting records say otherwise.
"They said we owe them a 100 percent penalty, another $10,000, which I refuse to pay," said Curran. "We finally got that settled - it's one state agency to the other, it makes no sense to penalize."
"We do not operate any elevators in an unsafe condition," Curran added.
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