Got in an elevator stuck in firefighter mode today (updated)

Just a story at work… walked in and the elevator was not working. Being the IT guy I was asked to look at it as we thought someone had just turned it off or something. It acted like there was something jamming the door when it tried to close so I looked in the track and there were plenty of rocks and dirt. Figured we’d clean those out before making any calls.

TL;DR – this happened, it’s not all that interesting but was kind of, to me, discovering how to operate the elevator again.

Cleaned those out, checked the door jam IR sensors and they seemed fine. Verified I could open the doors if needed by using my great strength, and pressed a floor button. The doors started closing and as they did I let go of the button and the doors immediately opened again. I didn’t put together that for a couple of times that they were only closing while I held the button.

I pressed the door close button and it would start closing the doors until I let it go… but if the doors were closed they stayed closed unless opened from the inside. I could go to any floor I wanted, but the only way to open the doors was to press the open button. They didn’t open automatically, and would only open as long as I was holding the open button.

You could go to any floor you wanted, but no call button worked.

Elevator service techs called, they also think it’s in firefighter operations mode. The places for keys for that operation mode are all in normal so potentially a board is fried. Maybe it needs turned off and on again. Whatever the case it’s beyond building computer guy’s scope, and if it breaks on a passenger after I turned it off and on again and they’re stranded I’m pointing to the certified professionals who are coming to look at it and saying “wasn’t me.”

The professionals arrived with firefighter keys and were done with the thing in two minutes. I managed to miss them and had to call to find out what happened at which point the service tech informed me that someone had turned both keys into firefighter mode, inside and out.

I knew this was BS, but didn’t want to argue. The tech claimed straight up that he had turned them from firefighter mode to not… ok… this made my job harder because I now was required to watch all the video that we have of both sides of the elevator to see just who had done it. Nobody had as a spoiler.

See, I have pictures of the locks… thanks Google Photos! And event video of the elevator. The pictures of the locks from when it was working and when it was not show the things in the exact same position.

So I got the video of the tech using the firefighter key, turning right, turning left, on both inside and out, leaving both in the same position he found them in. Turning it off and on again got it out of firefighter mode.

I reviewed all the video we had, because I now had to as the tech said that the locks had been tampered with, and discovered that the last person to ride the elevator successfully had a cleaning cart. That cart was not pushed all the way out of the door as they went to clean something on the first floor. I have video of the doors opening and closing again and again and again on that cart… until they stop a few minutes later.

That’s the last time the elevator operated normally. At some point the elevator switched into “something is wrong because these damned doors won’t close” mode and that’s what we were in.

Fun times…luckily I had a 4K security camera on one side to watch the tech’s hands, and a 1080P on the other that got enough of a view.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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