State proposes action for home elevator safety - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

FOX 5 I-Team Investigation

State proposes action for home elevator safety

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ATLANTA -

The state is inching closer to closing a gap that should make residential elevators safer for children .

It was the FOX 5 I-Team's stories about children nationwide being hurt that prompted the state to propose an emergency amendment to the state code.

In a July meeting, the state fire marshal played a FOX 5 story about the Helvey family and their

Day-to-day life taking care of Jacob who was nearly killed in the family's home elevator.

Quickly, an advisory board from the Department of Community Affairs voted unanimously to change the state residential elevator code making it harder for children to get trapped in home elevators.

If you're unfamiliar, most home elevators have a main, hallway door then a second gate attached to the cabin. Young Jacob Helvy got trapped between those doors and was nearly crushed to death after the elevator started moving.

The proposed code change would close that gap allowing only a maximum three-inch space between the doors rather than the national standard of five inches. Additionally, the door frame would come in a few inches closer to tighten up that space even more.

The state fire marshall Dwayne Garriss admits, the state made quick work of this big change.

"Yes, we did put this on the fast track to get an emergency amendment to go into effect January one, 2015."

The proposal has to pass through two more votes, but no one the I-Team has talked with sees a hiccup along the way. And no one is happier than the Helveys who have pushed since Jacob's accident to make sure this doesn't happen to another child.

"We don't always win every battle, but this is one we could all agree on," said Mr. Garriss who is very pleased.

Georgia is breaking away from a national group that sets the safety standard. It's a big move. Massachusetts did the same thing after a child was killed at a bed and breakfast in an elevator. The fire marshal says, to his knowledge, there has not been an accident there since Massachusetts tightened up its code.

Lastly, the proposed code change only speaks to new elevator installation. The Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens sent letters to as many home elevator owners as his office has on record and to installers warning them of the dangers to children. His office recommends retro-fitting older systems with space guards that attach to the hallway door to eat up space so that children can't fit between the doors.

 

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