Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Monday, 11 February 2013 10:42
Elevator use at Bowling Green State University has its ups and downs.
In a span of 35 days recently, city firefighters responded to four stuck elevators that had trapped students inside.
The most recent incident occurred Feb. 2, at 3:28 a.m., when two men were stuck on the fourth floor of the north elevator in the McDonald Hall West residence hall. According to the fire department report, firefighters were able to open exterior doors to the elevator shaft and extricate the men within 20 minutes.
It was unknown what caused the elevator malfunction.
Stuck elevators were also reported:
• Jan. 29 at 1 a.m., in Harshman-Chapman residence hall, with one person stuck between the first and second floors.
• Jan. 16 at 7:17 a.m., with one person stuck in the Physical Sciences Building elevator.
• Dec. 31, at 4:45 p.m., with one person stuck in Hayes Hall.
• Oct. 8, at 2:30 a.m., with one person stuck in Offenhauer East Residence Hall.
• July 25 at 11:40 p.m., when a group of 16 people had to be rescued from an overloaded elevator stuck between the first and second floors in Offenhauer East residence hall.
The occupants had to be removed through the top hatch of the elevator. The operation took approximately 30 minutes, and no injuries were reported. BGSU officials said a group of juveniles attending an outside conference overloaded the elevator.
According to Bowling Green Fire Chief Steve Meredith, the frequency of elevators getting stuck at BGSU is probably not out of the ordinary considering the numbers of elevators on campus.
"They do have more elevators than anywhere else in town," he said. There are 83 elevators on campus.
Meredith also said most students are able to call for assistance on their cell phones, and most realize help will be there quickly.
"Most of the time they are very calm," when firefighters get them out, he said.
The chief also pointed out that while some malfunctions are due to equipment problems, others may be caused by operator actions, such as people jumping in the elevators.
While the frequency of elevator complaints seems greater recently, it may just be that the university has changed its practice of how to respond to reports. According to Dave Kielmeyer, senior director of communications at BGSU, in the past university crews would respond to stuck elevators. Now the fire department is called - making the reports a public matter.
Though the number of elevator malfunctions weren't tracked before, Kielmeyer said the recent numbers don't seem unusually high.
"It doesn't strike us as an abnormally high number," he said.
BGSU is in the process of improving maintenance on its elevators, according to Sheri Stoll, chief financial officer for the university. Cuts in the state capital bills in recent years have led of many maintenance needs being postponed. But items such as elevator repairs are part of the university's $200 million building plan over the next five to seven years.
"I'm certainly aware that they do break down and need to be repaired," Stoll said.