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New York elevators in need of a lift

City elevators on the decline as aging machinery wears down; 22 injured when freight unit plunged three stories yesterday.

Twenty-two people plummeted three stories inside an elevator yesterday in a New York City nightmare.

All of the ill-fated passengers suffered injuries, nine of them serious, according to the FDNY. One person’s ankle was reportedly injured in the fall. The elevator fell in a Chelsea warehouse on Sixth Avenue at 7 a.m.

The freight elevator was illegally shuttling passengers and fell because of a brake malfunction, according to the Department of Buildings, which immediately closed the defective lift.

The FDNY said they respond to thousands of emergency calls a year due to malfunctions in the city’s 62,000 elevators. But high costs cause most city building owners to simply repair old elevators rather than replace them, elevator inspectors told Metro.

It can cost up to $350,000 to install a new elevator, said Anthony Giordano of the Midtown elevator consulting firm Vertical Systems Analysis.

“General maintenance is always found to be lacking in New York City,” said Joseph Del Grosso of Bushwick’s Municipal Inspection Corporation, an elevator inspection agency.

A couple common problems

Wear and tear of suspension cables, safety devices like lighting and two-way communication, and general cleanliness are the most common elevator violations found, according to Anthony Giordano of Vertical Systems Analysis elevator consultants.

All around the exterior of the elevator and in the shaft need to be kept clean, but conditions are usually a mess, he said.

“Dust and fuzz accumulate on the elevator system over the years and it’s possible a spark could ignite,” said Giordano.

Elevator mishaps increase in summer

Elevators are sensitive to temperature and voltage, so expect high numbers of malfunctions during warmer months. “The elevators will stall in the heat of the summer. If a neighborhood has a brownout, you are going to have a problem.” said Del Grosso.

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